Saturday, June 30, 2007


Sometimes I feel like I’m in a popular culture void here in Bangkok. Of course there is popular culture here, A, B, C list celebs etc, but since it’s all in Thai I don’t know anything about it.

I was really pleased to leave the UK because I was hooked on several TV shows: Eastenders, Coronation Street, Holby City, Casualty … (I know, I know, I’m so classy) and being in Thailand meant I’d have to wean myself off them: it’s liberating and has freed up lots of time in which I don’t write!

While I was in the UK I found out that Charlotte Church is pregnant. I actually don’t care really one way or the other, but it did come as a shock that I didn’t know what was going on…

I’ve just been reading ‘Wannabe a Writer’ which I picked up while in the UK recently. I went straight to the chapter on discipline (hoping Jane Wenham-Jones had a magic wand, yeah!) and this turned into ‘where to get ideas from.’ And do you know what she said?

She told me Pauline Fowler is dead.

Pauline Fowler is dead?

When? How?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Five Things What Are Good

Right, in balance to my neurotic moment yesterday, today I am taking the advice of Jon M to produce a list of Five Things What Are Good:

  1. Yesterday in my miniscule time available for writing I wrote 258 words. Nobody died; nobody shouted at me that I was crap; I enjoyed myself and have even got a few more words.
  2. Daughter shone in her part in the school play; remembered all her lines; husband got out of work early and took me to lunch, and he operated the digital camera.
  3. Photoshop. How did I ever live without being able to make pictures of The Archivist in a dodgy suit, myself with matchsticks in my eyes and maps of Fictionville? I so love Photoshop and I really want to get better at it.
  4. Dim Sum, yellow dahl and tea.
  5. Sleep

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I'm such a worrier. These are the things I'm worrying about currently:
  1. Why I'm not able to write.
  2. That I'm not up to it (I'm just not clever enough).
  3. That I'm not (and never will be) content to be just a reader.
  4. That I'll always want to write but never be able to do it.
  5. That everyone in the Novel Racers will finish, get published and I'll still be at 8,000 words.
  6. That I have to go to Emporium and buy a disc for the video camera before Daughter's play.
  7. That Daughter will forget her lines.
  8. That Husband will be late and I'll have to remember how to use the camera.
  9. That I promised myself I would write between 11am-1pm, and now it's 11.33 and I'm blogging.
  10. That the hole in my foot is still not healed.
  11. That I'm not thin.
  12. That I'd be in the gym if the hole in my foot didn't hurt so much.
  13. That I know that that's a total lie.
  14. That I don't tell the truth to myself.
  15. That my hair is frizzy.
  16. That I want to sleep all the time.
  17. That I'm (not) writing the wrong story.
  18. That the voice I think I want to use isn't actually my voice.
  19. That if it's not my voice - who's is it? And have they got mine?
  20. That I can't even remember all the things I'm worried about.
  21. That I'll have to come back and update the list when I can remember.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No, no, no, noooooo

No, no, no, noooooo. Not okay.

Self indulgent excuses. I've got:

I'm going to print this out and laminate it. That'll keep me busy for half an hour or so.

Uh Oh, Braveheart, Not.

Oh bollocks, not so brave now, am I?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Can you tell me the way?

Okay. Big DEEP breath required.

I’ve been through my words with a scythe. Yes, those 23,036 words – and now they are 8,544 words of my novel.

I couldn’t see where I was going.

I had lots of notes that I couldn’t fathom.

And now I have a view on my path again.

I figure that many of them may come back. I will work from those notes, but they aren’t yet story, so they don’t belong there.

I am attempting to construct something of a plan … this worries me because (though I hate to be typical) I am a woman who has to turn the map up different ways to understand where she is and how to get there.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

“You are all individuals.” “I’m not.”

Jon M’s post about exam marking and its comments triggered this post.

What am I doing when I write? I want to communicate something which is uniquely mine – it may cross into the general experience of others, but the way I tell it, is exclusive to my life. The story that I am struggling to write comes from the questions in my head that I am attempting to answer. So it’s imperative that I think for myself rather than think in the prescribed way that someone else has dictated.

What do we want for our children? I want that same free and creative thinking for my offspring and the courage to express those ideas.

Now, I know that my ‘readership’ is predominantly based in Britain, and you may need to suspend your disbelief to swallow the following information. Here in Thailand it is said that the education system is based on by rote learning and so with a number of international schools to choose from, many international parents, including Thais, choose British schools because it has a world reputation as the best education system. It teaches children to think and apply, it is believed, rather than to swallow what is provided and regurgitate on request.

And yet it doesn’t, despite being considered so great by the rest of the world, encourage any form of individuality. In fact, if you have a child that is ‘an individual’ it fails them in any number of ways. As a parent I want to encourage my children to take risks, and think for themselves, but in classes of 30 or so, this simply isn’t encouraged. Indeed any kind of independent thought and behaviour is considered to be subversive and anti social.

I am aware of chiding and coercing Son to behave in a way which is ‘acceptable.’ Schooling (from the age of about three at nursery) has been a constant struggle for both of us. Parents’ Evenings are an ordeal in which I have to sit and listen to a) how intelligent my son is but predominantly b) what a disruptive influence he is. Letters, emails and phone calls home cause my heart to sink.

What do you do with a child who is constantly discouraged from his enthusiasm because it doesn’t fit the pattern of behaviour expected of a group of children? I do realize how hard it is on one teacher to cope with a classful should one child incite the others, but I hope with all my heart that he meets a teacher along the way who realizes how unique he is and that he isn’t turned off for good.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Breadmaker & Back in Bangkok

Oh I had such a lovely time in the UK. Husband asked me what was the highlight and I thought for a minute:

... and then I said: ‘All of it. The whole week was a highlight’.


My friend in Manchester said ‘We’ve got some presents for you and the kids, but they aren’t very big’.

My sister said on the ‘phone ‘I’ve got some presents for you and the kids, but they aren’t very big.’

It was nearly time to go so I repacked my bag. I put everything on the bed: all the books I had bought (I was careful, honest, I only bought 10 or so) and the Soft and Gentle (four large cans), the Tampax (three large boxes) , the Rennies (6 large boxes), the Resolve (two boxes) and the two pots of ‘Options’. It didn’t fit in my case.

My friend, the High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation coughed and said ‘breadmaker.’ Mmmmm, there was a breadmaker in Kent at my folks; I was carrying it back to Bangkok. I couldn’t understand why the space that had been created by 7 pairs of ‘crocs’ I’d bought from Bangkok wasn’t enough… I had to buy a bigger suitcase. I packed the new suitcase and I repacked the breadmaker, which I planned to carry on.

At Heathrow I gave the lovely check in woman my passport, she giggled and said, ‘Is this really you?’ My new suitcase was three kilos overweight and my breadmaker was too big to carry on. ‘That’s okay’ I said, ‘I’ll check the breadmaker in too.’ It was 7 kilos. ‘You’re only allowed to check in one piece of luggage’ she said ‘and you’re only allowed 23 kilos in total. I’m supposed to charge you £120 pounds to check in the breadmaker. I don’t have the authority to change this – only my manager does.’

‘So… uhm, can we try your manager?’

Lovely, gorgeous check-in woman and her unseen (but no doubt equally delicious) manager waived my fee.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Caroline's launch

What a lovely time we all had last night: it was so good to meet everyone. Although it was WEIRD meeting people you'd got to know, but had no idea how to recognise. I texted Hesitant Scribe to say 'Are you here?' and I heard a text being received in the room, but couldn't work out where and who. Then as she texted back 'Yes, by the drinks table' she heard Caroline introduce me to someone. Weird and odd, and stuff, but so lovely. (It was made doubly odd for me that one of the bloggers is the daughter of my lovely friend from art college, although I did know that before I went. I think it was marginally more odd that there was such a coincidental connection to someone. Strangers meeting virtually, yes, but someone I knew?)

My camera is not great, but here are a couple of pics:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Here I am


The flight was fine, although it was cold. I woke in the night and grumbled to one of the staff and he said it was because we were so high that the air con units outside the ‘plane had got ice on. I didn’t want to hear that; so had my extremities. Anyway I rearranged my complimentary blanket (I got warmed up a bit from the electrical sparks caused by peeling nylon blanket off my pure wool jumper) and went back to sleep.

Since I landed I’ve been making lots of tut tutting noises about how expensive everything is (£1.20 for a bottle of water!) I pottered about Paddington (that Heathrow Express is fab, but so it should be for £15 for a single 15 minute journey). Right, okay, that’s the last time I do that; no more mentioning the cost of living here.

It felt very weird leaving the apartment last night. I felt like I was doing something naughty and I’m quite law abiding normally. It was my first time on an international flight from the new airport in Bangkok, and I had nobody to say ‘no, no there’s no time for shopping…’ so I had a bit of look about but it was all a bit disappointingly Dior, Cartier, Chanel, Mont Blanc etc and even at duty free prices they are impossibly expensive. (And I know Terminal 4 at Heathrow has a Mulberry shop, and I’m saving myself for that on the way home, but shhh, don’t tell Husband.)

So I’m on a train now going up to Manchester, looking out the window at the red brick railway bridges, wild flowers and elderflower trees and thinking about how much I miss rural views. I do love the English countryside, but I think I might be in danger of rhapsodizing … nostalgia is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I am inadequate

I want to post about Caroline’s book, In Search of Adam, but I find myself overwhelmed and unable to find the words. (Some writer I’m gonna make, eh?)

And I have to post today or else I risk leaving up a post about a Teddy Bear and a Dog in the clouds while I'm in the UK and any newcomers chancing on my blog might think I’m a bit … well, lacking. I don’t know whether I’ll have a second to post from the UK in between ‘all’ the book launches and socializing I’m going to be doing!

I chose to read In Search of Adam because of Caroline, blogging, and the novel racers, but I was a little afraid of what 'stuff' it would put in my head.

I don’t want to write a traditional review (they’ve been done so beautifully by others already – and amusingly - Bobo. See them all from Caroline's blog) but I did want to tell you what I thought.

In Search of Adam is beautiful; it felt like reading poetry (where I didn’t have to stop and speculate about what it meant). I slowed my normal reading speed right down to taste all the words, and shapes. I've worried about how I could describe it as ‘beautiful’ because the subject is so harrowing, but I think perhaps the poetry and the visual beauty enabled the horror of the story.

Don't let the subject matter put you off, it's a tragic story, told with such tenderness and humility. It's an emotional read but not a depressing one.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What is it?

One of our favourite games is pictures in the clouds. Daughter spotted this one when we were on our way home from a gymnastic competition at school yesterday. (Did I mention she won a silver medal for the vault?)

Scroll down to find out what we say it is.


A mongrel dog chasing a teddy bear from behind a bush. Look how fast Teddy is running away from Dog!

Friday, June 08, 2007

What's in my head?

Oh gosh, it's Friday again. The day for reporting how much novel I haven't written.

What can I say? That nonetheless, I'm thinking and feeling positively about it: this is great for me. (I am almost too excited about my impending UK trip to write: pathetic but true.)

What else can I say? That I've just read fellow novel racer, Dave Hill's The Adoption and really, really liked it. First of all it has a similar tone to what I'd like to achieve for my novel. I don't want a wild rollercoaster-like plot: I want beautifully drawn, believable characters in real situations. It made me think of my friend, The High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation's recent observation to me about how I like 'proper stories.' I agreed with her and ever since I haven't been able to stop thinking about the comment and what it meant - what it means for the story I'm trying to write.

What is a 'proper story'? Well, it is the kind of thing I like to read. I loathe fantasy (I read and enjoyed all the Harry Potter books because I share a love of reading with my 13 year old son and want to be able to understand what he likes) but generally I don't want to be asked to believe in things I know don't exist: Fantasy, magic, blah.

What I loved about Dave Hill's story was that it was a piece of life, with pain and problems, and flawed individuals. It could've been made over dramatic but it wasn't, it was real. That's what I want for my novel. I don't necessarily want there to be a happy ending because it's not real.

I know how my story goes, but I don't know how it ends and I sometimes wonder if this is a problem. In The Adoption it doesn’t end – well obviously it does end – the book, the story, but the point is that the characters don’t. Really believable characters continue their lives, if only in some place inside each reader. You can’t hope for much more as I writer I think.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Time travelling twittery award

It's even more exciting than I thought. I've just realised that I've made a cock of my tickets.

I don't leave very late on the 13th and arrive early morning, UK time, on the 14th.

I leave very late on the 12th, ie 10 minutes after it becomes the 13th, which means after subtracting or adding 12 hours flight (I'm not sure which) and taking into account the 6 hours difference between Bangkok and the UK it means I arrive early on the 13th - a whole day earlier than I thought.

Is this time travel, or am I really stupid?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I can hardly contain myself for excitement about next week's trip to the UK.

This is desperately exciting, because (in no particular order)
  1. I will see my best friends (two big and two small).
  2. I will meet some blogfriends!
  3. I am going to a book launch - how glam am I?
  4. I get to go to Primark, Marks and Spencers, Gap etc.
  5. I will see my sister and my nieces.
  6. I will see my Mum and Dad (and have a roast, hopefully. Lamb please Dad.)
  7. I will buy a breadmaker to return to Bangkok with (Hurrah, normal bread is coming).
  8. I will do things all on my own. I have been a mummy for so many years I cannot remember what it is to live for a whole week doing just what I want to do.
  9. I get to buy Soft and Gentle deoderant, Resolve, Rennies, Migraleve, Teabags, Options Choc powder, Tampax (shhh, don't shout about it) and bring them all back to Bangkok.
  10. I will go to an English bookshop, oooooooooh.

The only thing I am worrying about is what to wear on my feet. Because

  1. I still have a painful foot where the hole has filled in.
  2. I have lived for two years in sandals and flip flops and can't remember wearing shoes that cover my feet.
  3. I realise that flip flops are worn in the UK, but what if it's raining or cold?

Oh my goodness, I'm beyond excited.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Is it just me?

Do you ever have that feeling where something is bothering you – you’re aware of a strange uncomfortableness, a sort of antsy sense - yet you can’t recall why you feel that way? You don’t literally fidget, but you feel physically a bit uncomfortable and anxious. It’s not helped by the fact that you can’t remember what it is that’s bothering you? (How can it make you feel like this if you can’t remember what it is?)

Sometimes, usually, I remember what it is that’s bothering me, and then I realize that it’s not that important and that squirmy feeling goes away.

But today, the restlessness isn’t going away.

Every now and again I remember why I feel peculiar and then I go through that whole ‘Oh shit, yes, that is something that’s bothering me.’

I wish I didn’t think so much about these things. Maybe if I didn’t turn it over and over in my head, worrying away at it, it wouldn’t feel so bad. Why can’t I be one of those people who realize they can’t change what’s been said and get over it?

A few weeks ago I had some correspondence with someone – several communications in fact – and in my excitement I think I said and did something which on reflection maybe sounded wrong, came out wrong, and I think I may have offended/upset/overstepped the mark with her. I did write and apologize lightheartedly, and say ‘oh bugger, I do have the tendency to open my mouth/put fingers to keyboard before I’ve engaged my brain.’ She wrote back saying it was no problem, but I still have this feeling… lack of communication maybe, that I’ve cocked up!

And now I can’t get that irritating feeling to go away.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Judgmental JJ

Today I’m typing from Pattaya. We’re staying in a very nice hotel for two days at one end of the resort so that husband and son could scuba dive. (Daughter dropped us like a hot brick and went camping with friends). Son didn’t dive because he was too snotty, but husband did, and I snorkeled for about 15 minutes to establish that I couldn’t see diddly squat.

Pattaya is Bangkok’s closest beach resort. To call it tacky is being kind. The place has a reputation for being where the seedy western men bring their Thai girlfriends. There is no doubt that I’ve seen evidence of that here, but I’ve also seen other nicer parts to the town. One image that won’t leave my head is an advertisement in the window of a pharmacy advertising their goods and services, among which were ‘viagra’ and ‘HIV testing’.

Husband said I hadn’t seen enough of Pattaya to judge (I had seen it through the minibus window at 8am & 5pm on the way to and from scuba diving) because we were staying in ‘the nice end.’ I live in Bangkok, (I actually live in a soi with a red light district off it) so I know what the Thai night life is like, and so I reckon I can judge without actually scrutinizing Walking Street on foot. If I were passing judgment from my armchair in the UK while never having been to Thailand, that would be different.

Knowing I am apt to pass verdicts on things I wondered whether I do this with the right qualifications or from my armchair of ignorance. I never stick to that judgment if I am proven mistaken – I will always admit to being wrong. In fact, it doesn’t take much to persuade me so since I am cursed by the ability to see both sides of any argument (mostly) which isn’t the strength it might appear, but can be deeply irritating and appear weak.