Thursday, February 24, 2011

Forgive me father for I am arrogant...

I first heard about ‘Mousetrapped’ by Catherine Ryan Howard from Caroline Smailes’ blog back in April of last year. Caroline is a confirmed Disney lover whereas I am not and yet… I knew that I wanted to read it. I was intrigued, not only by the modern publishing story (after positive agent feedback but no deal, Catherine published the book herself) but also by the whole Disney thing; and my own curiosity baffled me. Why would I want to read about some going to work at Disneyworld in Orlando?

It’s not that I hate Disney; I’m indifferent towards it. The Toy Story films and Jungle Book are among my favourite animated movies and there are all sorts of things I admire about the combined skills of those that make them. Look there probably are all sorts of legitimate reasons why some people hate Disney and you can find any number of vitriolic websites about those should you wish to but they weren’t relevant to how I felt. I eventually forgot about trying to identify why I was uncomfortable at wanting to read a story by someone who believed in the magic and Catherine’s book disappeared from my mind until I read another article about her experience of e-publishing.

Perhaps it somewhere around the time that I ordered it that I worked out what I felt. Ouch: I felt superior. Double ouch.

I began to read ‘Mousetrapped’ anyway.

I loved it. It’s immediately engaging and I felt as though Catherine were with me telling me her tale in person. And I realized we weren’t so different from each other. She was just looking for something -aren’t we all? Excitement? Happiness? Fulfillment? (Didn’t she say: “Ahead of her she sees weekends at the beach, mornings by the pool and an inexplicably skinnier version of herself skipping around Magic Kingdom.” And didn’t I, from the UK, imagine drifting around our Bangkok apartment in a size 8 Ghost dress, listening to Frank Sinatra?)

I tell you what else she’s done: she’s made me want to go. I do want to actually see it - partly because I’m still fascinated by the notion that some people should feel so much for something I simply can’t comprehend. And partly because I really wouldn’t mind seeing a rocket taking off at Cape Canaveral.

No I still don’t believe in the Magic but I’ve learned something about myself and had a nose into what makes another person tick. Oh yes, and I’ve given myself a firm clunk around the head for my arrogance.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chim Chim-in-nee, Chim Chim-in-nee ♪

Every time I go to Chamchuri Square I start singing. I’ve only been three times but that’s probably good a good thing. It's the singing you see; I could send myself mad. I don’t sing any old song, just once – I sing ‘Chim Chim-in-nee, Chim Chim-in-nee, chim chim cher-ee.’ ♪♪♪♪ And I sing it over and over and over. 

I only NEEDED to go to Chamchuri Square for the visa renewals each February which was kind of doable. We can all put up with 24 hours of me warbling like a discordant Mary Poppins or Dick Van Dyke once a year but now I’ve got another reason to go which is a bit worrying. Someone told me about a stall where you could buy notebooks that they would personalize for you (at no extra charge.)

*Gasp* I think it might be worth the pain of the singing.

Look at my new notebook:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Exquisite reading: Not So Perfect by Nik Perring

My next Book Club book, ‘Orchid Fever’ by Eric Hansen has gone missing. I bought it about three weeks ago and put it somewhere safe. Now it has disappeared from my apartment. There are no more copies available in Bangkok and anyway I’ve already bought it once. I am feeling stupid.

One book I read recently that I wasn’t careless enough to lose was Nik Perring’s volume of short stories, ‘Not So Perfect’ although let me tell you they are; they are absolutely perfect.

I don’t read many short stories and I’ve only written one and it was, frankly, stinky. But I’m going to have to reconsider things because these stories were exquisite: funny, painful and quirky. Such short stories as these are known as flash fiction and of course they look effortless. I know they’re not.

The title “Not So Perfect’ is a line from one of the stories and refers to lives of the characters that people the whole collection. After reading it twice I’m finding it jolly difficult to believe that Nic Perring isn’t a sixty eight year old woman, a fifteen year old girl or a twelve year old boy because he writes with such tenderness from all those perspectives. Bereavements, misunderstandings, loneliness and being different, those human conditions are all here and yet somehow he makes us look twice. He makes them feel unique.

My favourite stories are ‘My Heart’s in a Box’ and ‘The Angel in The Car Park.’

Sadly, 'Not So Perfect' is not available in Bangkok.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Running away

With the need to look critically at my novel my demon critic is back sitting on my shoulder; and he's... well criticising. I have written numerous blog posts during this last fortnight and deleted them all. B*stard.

The problem is that I can't entirely silence him. I need him and his constructive critique to help me make my book better but he's a devilish little thing and sometimes he just creeps in and criticises everything - he must be a bit dim because he can't tell the difference between constructive and destructive.

So let's start slowly, with some pictures.  We went away for three days to Hua Hin this half term week. I had a look on the internet for things to do and found Hua Hin Hills Vineyard forty kilometres away. I had heard a vague rumour that Thailand was growing grapes to make western style wine but I thought it was up north. I have minimal interest in vineyards (although my sparkling wine at lunch was incredibly good) but when I saw that we could tour the grapes and olive groves on elephants the deal was sealed.

I adore elephants. I thought five years ago that we would do an obligatory elephant ride during our first holiday and then it would be ticked off the tacky but essential tourist list but I go back again and again. I am in love.

I think I might run away from home and become a mahout.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Friday Photo: Waste not, want not

Updated: Errrm, how much of a berk am I? Are you too polite to tell me it's Thursday? Doh. Oh well, I am writing: I'm allowed to be a little eccentric.

To attract and trap something?
To scare something off?

No idea but don't throw them away - they could be useful.

Spotted on Koh Kret Island.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Breeding like...

... rabbits. 

I've covered Chinese New Year before so I won't stop to explain but Thailand is the only country to celebrate (with equal enthusiasm) three New Years (Thai, Chinese and our own Gregorian New Year.) 

2011 - starting tomorrow - is the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth sign in the Chinese zodiac. It's an excellent sign to be; it's not the size of the creature but what is in their nature.

I heard the first calls of Kung Hei Fat Choy yesterday and this morning during a peaceful pilates class the first set of fire crackers went off. They might go off for a duration of fifteen or twenty seconds - usually out of the blue. I'm still quite shocked by them - not as much as I was in the early days when I thought bombs were going off but they still make me jump.

Since the end of November rabbits have been appearing all over Bangkok. I had no idea when I started collecting all their pictures how out of control it would get; how very apt.

We have every conceivable rabbit...