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under control

Finally decided to get a knee op. It’s not a major issue, except it stops me walking without pain, and makes me throw my back out a little bit as I tend to limp a bit.

So a minor op on the torn meniscus, hopefully, and I’m speaking to a consultant next Friday. I’m hoping to get it done under a local anaesthetic as I have a fear of being ‘under’ – I don’t like drugs at all, my early experiences of them have put me off for life – if it aint actual sleeping, I prefer not to be unconscious.

It’s a control thing, I suspect.



I write stories. I teach a bit. I’m not exceptional. I’m not brave.

This is exceptional. This is brave. They murder people for saying this sort of thing, and yet she said it.


Purely out of interest I logged onto a site to test my unconscious bias. To be fair, I think the methodology is junk, it’s based on the speed with which you tap the E or the I key on your keyboard, the idea being that you will tap quicker on those things you prefer – say an image of a white or black face – and slower on those things you don’t. It’s an in-group/out-group thing, I guess. But I did it anyway.

It turns out I’m not racially biased. And I’m not biased in terms of gender.

Which was a bit of a shock. I’m male, working class, and from northern* England. We’re riddled with prejudice. Aren’t we?



* the ‘north’ in England is sort of equivalent to the Deep South in the USA.  Dunno what it’d be in Norway or Canada or Iran or elsewhere.


I did a quiz on the BBCs top 100 books to see how many I’ve read. I got 37. Apparently that’s higher than the average of 30, but to me it’s not particularly high. I read the classics between the age of sixteen and nineteen, that is, in the early years after leaving school*, while I was eating barbiturates and finding it difficult to hold down job, and devouring whatever they had on the shelves at East Herrington library. I stopped reading ‘literature’ before I was twenty. I mostly read junk now, and enjoy it.

The BBC list didn’t include Chandler or Woolf or a lot of other good writers, so I guess it tells you as much about the people who wrote the list as it does about what is supposed to be a comprehensive and nutritious reading list.

It’s a strange thing to do, evaluating a reading habit numerically. I guess it’s aspirational, giving people a list of 100 books. It’s doable.



* school being the last place I’d have gone to read books, quality or otherwise.


just when I thought I was out..

I stopped teaching full-time more than five years ago, I write about it here,  and though I’ve been doing intermittent tuition and 1-2-1 since then, and recently I’d kind of decided to let it all slide, just let it fade away.

Since which time I’ve been getting numerous random cold-calls and emails from agencies asking me if I want supply-teaching work. I suspect that the teaching industry is in crisis, that more and more teachers are walking away, hence the glut of supply-teaching companies and supply-teaching offers. One of my former colleagues, an excellent teacher, now pushes a trolley in a supermarket and is much happier for doing so. Another former colleague has reduced her timetable to two days a week. Everyone wants out.

Teaching is a great job, spoiled.

I did agree to a day’s work in a school a couple of weeks before Christmas, to make a bit extra cash, and though I can still do the job, I had no interest in patrolling the classroom with a metaphorical chair and whip, and it came to me in a moment that I’d never be returning to a classroom again. After that day, I realised, as I stood at the front of the class, I was done. I was smiling to myself at this sudden realisation and caught the eye of a young student who smiled back at me. I leaned across the desk and whispered, ‘Can you believe I get paid for doing this?’

She giggled. So did I.

The schoolday ended, and I left the school knowing I’d never stand at the front of a class again.

But since then, I’ve had calls and emails from companies contacting me about doing supply work.


book burner

It’s winter outside, cold, dark, breezy, perfect for wrapping up, getting a fire going outside, drinking a glass of wine. Or four. Then I thought, I’ve never burned a book, maybe I should try it, just to see what it feels like. Throw one in the flames. Just some crap book, some old rubbish. Chuck it on the fire.

The thought made me shudder. There’s something not even remotely funny about burning books. It’s up there with vandalising a church, I think it’s even worse.

So, the books are safe.

The wine, not so safe.

no trainers!

Wahey! My knee is now getting better to the point I can finally begin wearing the boots I bought from the British Boot Company over a year ago.

They’re Solovair Hawkins, seeing as you asked. 70s-throwback footwear for those us with pulp-fiction bent.





ps – I aint selling them, I just love ’em!

Indy ’20

Being independent is the only way, for me, to be a writer. It means I can bypass the various literary priesthoods, their acolytes* and their arcane codes and behaviours.

I have my stuff appear in print exactly how I want it. Sure, it can be rough around the edges, but I’m with Ruskin on this, polishing the head of a pin serves no useful function. And most of the ‘literary’ world is about polishing the heads of pins.

Me, I just like telling stories.


*I’ve had three agents and a couple of publishers, and I’ll never go back to any of that.


This year my resolution is:

Do less.

A lot less.

Attempt less. Carry less. Start less. Respond less. Reach less. Strive less. Own less. Just do, less.

(but what little remains, do more)

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