Sunday, January 29, 2012

More monitors

I was over Lumpini way yesterday with several hours to myself so I did one of my favourite things: I went monitor lizard hunting in Lumpini Park. I love these creatures. They're so unlike anything I've ever encountered anywhere else. (Thank heavens; can you imagine the hysteria if these climbed out of the Serpentine one day?) My normal practice is to tear around the park, wondering why there aren’t any lizards to be seen and it’s only as I slow down and accept Thai time that they become visible. I think there might be a life lesson there.

I was sketching a tree (badly) when this little baby – about fifty centimetres long - appeared. He was beautifully marked. His yellow spots - which looked as though he'd been assembled from beads - make him, according to my book, a simple Water Monitor Lizard. 

He seemed oblivious to me, a metre or two away. He moved about flicking his tongue and exploring and then, after playing for a bit in a puddle of water, he took off around the edge of the lake.

I watched him for a long time and then I decided to go in search of another; greedily I wanted a bigger one. On the opposite side of the lake I’d seen a group of adults doing T’ai Chi. As I approached them I saw a piece of tree that looked a lot like a monitor lizard’s head but I decided it couldn’t be because it was so close to the T’ai Chi practice.

Then it moved.

This chap was about two metres nose to tail tip. According to my reference book I'd swear it was a Bengal Monitor Lizard but these aren't documented (in the book) as living in Thailand though they do live as our near neighbours in Burma and I'm not sure they have much respect for the border control. So the next best (and a bit unsatisfactory) ID would be the South East Asian Monitor Lizard, famous for their scavenging – hence the T’ai Chi people. Maybe it is then.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not everything is for sale

"I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting."
Mark Twain.

I told you here that Thais, (and I) love to sleep. Here's an example.

Husband gets the credit for this cute photo.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No more apologising

I read recently a load of old letters from my early days in Bangkok. Severals things struck me about their tone but the most depressing thing was that practically every single one began with an apology. I'm sorry I have taken so long to write; sorry not to write sooner; sorry. Sorry. Sorry. God it was depressing.

A woman in Gap dressing room in New York once told me off for apologising. I'd only been with her for 35 seconds.

There's going to be no more apologising for sporadic posting.

I missed making a fuss of Tea Stains birthday on Friday. So what? I'm not offended and actually, I toasted it several times during the day; the best one being at lunch, with a dahl and a fizzy water in a pretty blue glass. Yay. Get me.

But five years of blogging: that's not bad huh?

I am having a little bit of a change of direction. I am out playing with different ideas. I suppose I shall come here at some point and let you know how and why. Maybe.

In the meantime,

Happy New Lunar Year

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Photo

As an accompaniment to today's photo I have to tell non Thai residents that Thai people sleep everywhere and anywhere. As a napper, I think this is eminently sensible. Once, I was so culturally immersed, I napped in Starbucks and I've been teased by my friends ever since. Still as you can see here it can be pretty funny too.

This week, as I raced around the malls of Bangkok trying to find Daughter's computer case, I went into a new set of loos in Siam Paragon. I couldn't resist taking this photo. I promise I haven't photoshopped the sign. I am convinced that the (foreign, surely?) translator has been poking a little fun at the Thais' love of forty winks. In Thai, this label says it's the equipment/broom cupboard.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've failed at the 'being a better blogger' already, right?

What have I been up to?

I have been writing. I've done 10,000 odd words of novel and 1,500 odd of non fiction book. 

I've had some migraines; raced about Bangkok looking for pink computer covers for Daughter (it had to be pink; HOW many malls? I found it at Fortune.) I've tried to have a life too. I've attended book club and a coffee morning so that I remember how to socialise and today I've been back to Wood Street with my friend K. She needed some furniture and I needed wanted some letters. Daughter and I wasted quite some time making anagrams with my new letters.

Now if you'll excuse me I've 500 words left to do today.

Here are my wooden letters:

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Voices in my head

I had a bad writing day yesterday; like in the old days. Voices in my head telling me it was all crap, asking why I was wasting my time. It would never be any good... And when I read back what I'd written, why, sure enough, the voice was right.

I buckled for a bit. It was a bad morning. Then I realised I just had to tell it (the voice, my editor, the devilish creature, whatever the hell it is) to bugger right off. My goal isn't to write a perfect manuscript but to get the story in the right order.

Husband took me to a newish Japanese canteen a few doors away where I inadvertently ate wheat noodles (I thought udon were rice noodles...)

Then I got a tuk tuk to Starbucks in soi 49. It was lovely and cool in there and I settled into a sofa to try and write.

It was tough, I won't lie. I people watched; checked out Twitter and Facebook and I wasted at least ten minutes taking these photographs of the plant shadows on the blind.

But I wrote until I was 25 words short of today's aim, 4000 words. No matter how hard I tried those 25 words wouldn't come.

I will try and make up for it today.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Reading recommendations

I still haven’t got a kindle. Don’t feel sorry for me, as I am more than adequately techied up. I do have the kindle app which means I can read on my iPhone or my iPad so I’m not missing out. Here are a few e-book recommendations.

It must be so interesting being a crime writer. I was sitting in Starbucks the other day reading this crime thriller and I had to google 'can you get DNA from vomit?' Imagine your days filled with questions like that. My friend and former Novel Racer, Mel has just published her first book, Taunting the Dead, featuring DS Allie Shenton. I love a novel with had a strong sense of place – in Stoke on Trent – I loved all the references to the pottery industry.) It was gritty and a brilliant page-turner. I recommend it to anyone who likes to get into a gory crime.

My second recommendation is an anthology, Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After.  A collection of twenty-six short stories written by a group of women who have had hundreds of stories published in women’s magazines. They’ve written novels, had stories win prizes in competition and there’s something here for everyone. I love a short story in between my first love – novels.

Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After includes stories by Cally Taylor, Bernadette James, Tamsyn Murrary, Jill Steeples, Jenny Maltby, Deborah Carr, Karen Clarke, Sally Quilford, Kathleen McGurl, Sarah Dunnakey, Helen Kara, Helen M Hunt and Leigh Forbes.

My third recommendation is Five Stop Story: Short Stories to Read in 5 Stops on Your Commute. Five Stop Story is an electronic publisher specializing in short stories by new writers that you can read in five stops on the underground – or indeed, the BTS. Since their inception they’ve had over 1,000 entries to their competitions and this ebook features 30 of the best stories from those entries. 

And, look at the cover! Isn’t it just beautiful?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year

We saw it in at home, playing games and watching Harry Potter (and the Order of the Phoenix) until 11.55 and then we went out onto our Bangkok balcony and watched several displays of fireworks. I love living in a city.

I’m going to gloss over the ‘what I have achieved in 2011’ round up we’re seeing all over the blogosphere because the answer is ‘precious little’ and I’m feeling pretty blah about it.

A few weeks ago I signed up for Sally Quilford’s 1000 words a day for a hundred days. It started this morning. Of course I had to trick myself into writing. I set the clock for one hour and wrote and I just continued until I’d written the 1000 words. Why isn’t it always that easy?

This year I am going to get this novel into a shape I am happy with if it kills me. (It might.)

I’ve given up wheat, meat and sweet(s).

And I’m going to have a better blogging year.