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I spent an hour today looking for a movie on Netflix, scanning the thumbnails, checking out the trailer for more than a few. If I’d spent much longer on it, it’d have been a movie-length endeavour. I couldn’t find anything. I’ve said it before but Netflix stuff has an oily-black sheen, a certain corporate glossiness, but I mostly can’t find anything I want to watch.

Youtube is losing me too. Over the years I’ve gone through phases of watching cycling channels, political channels, 2A channels, cartoon and manga channels, tank channels, motorbike channels and many others, and all I can put on at the moment is 24/7 lof-fi chillout. If I could find lo-fi jazz I’d be set…

…I just looked and found a 24/7 lo-fi jazz/chill-hop channel.  So the evening is looking up. Plus, I’ve got a novel series I’m not quite halfway through. Lucas my sometimes tech person got me onto Jeff Abbot and the Sam Capra books, and yesterday I discovered he’d written a whole series of other novels. I read the first book yesterday and will probably finish this one tonight or in the morning.

I don’t read literature. Haven’t read it for pleasure since I was seventeen. Haven’t read it for study since I did my MA. As a reader, I want junk fiction with a clear narrative, not some literary character study with an ambiguous ending.

The Hunt

I watched The Hunt a few days ago and really enjoyed it.

It’s a satire of sorts, and gorier than I usually enjoy, but a really good convention-twisting film. Betty Gilpin proves that some of the best action movies have female leads, and I spotted Amy Madigan as apple-pie friendly ‘Ma’ – the last film I saw her was in Uncle Buck.

Some people seem a bit upset about the high concept aspect – rich liberals hunt conservative rednecks – but as I’m none of the above I just enjoyed the movie. Not the best movie I’ve seen year, that’d be JoJo Rabbit (though it’s a 2019 release), but one of my favourites so far.

I find myself watching more movies than usual ‘cos of the lockdown. I usually only watch a half-dozen a year. I think this year might be a binge year.


I went on YT to watch a thing from a guy who does podcasts, and before the podcast came the flash-ad, then came the ad you can turn off after five seconds, then came the podcast, in which the host began talking about his sponsor.

I was a minute in and all I’d seen were ads.

So I switched off the podcast.

Thing is, and I know people will argue otherwise, I don’t buy anything based on an ad. I might buy turmeric, say, because I’ve heard a half dozen people mention it, and I read an article on its benefits, but I wouldn’t buy a similar, unknown Spice X because of an ad. It doesn’t work that way.

I guess an ad campaign could get people talking about a product, and I realise it’s also part of raising and keeping raised the profile of said product, but, enough. I can’t ever recall the details of an ad, even five seconds after it’s finished. I must have glimpsed a million ads, yet the stuff I ever buy is mostly the stuff I’ve always bought.

My mind sees an ad and switches off until it’s over.

I’ve got a mental adblock.


I’m working on a book that requires some 1930s Ladybird-style artwork. If you know anyone who does that sort of stuff, tell them to get in touch.

More generally, I’m always looking to collaborate with artists, so feel free to get in touch whatever your style.


I’m busy working on a schedule that will encompass all the things I need to do to improve.

  • Physical improvement
  • Mental improvement
  • Positive outcomes

And I’ll be using my own Plan as a grid map for the areas I need to focus on.



Was chatting to a couple of pals online and Laura, a primary teacher, said she was doing singalongs via Zoom, but her guitar was bust. The Count gave her some advice but it didn’t work, and her electric isn’t loud enough to play without an amp. But it was good to connect with pals, even though the outcome wasn’t perfect.

It got me thinking about how we maintain contact in the lockdown. I guess I could hop back on FB, but for me, that’s like eating a bag of sugar because you’re hungry, it’s a solution that brings its own problems. Meanwhile the Brekka Club is in dry dock for the foreseeable, though we keep in contact enough to insult each other in every way possible.

My favoured methods of communication – emails and texts – are becoming archaic, they’re legacy mediums, but I like them because I can write stuff down and there’s a civilised gap between the message and the reply; the conversation can breathe. And I like to write stuff down, it’s more comfortable for me than live conversation, but most people prefer live chat. Which makes sense.

My preferred medium – writing – is structurally awkward, it’s doesn’t work for every situation.

Maybe I should work on conversation.


The clocks went forward almost a week ago, but mu kitchen clock responded by running slow, so it’s about an hour slow. So, weirdly, it feels like I’ve to an hour extra on the morning, when my phone alarm wakes me with Zero 7, and an extra hour on the evening when I’m downstairs working in the kitchen and not checking the time on my phone.

So, two hours extra in the day. Perfect.

Scallywags of London

I had an idea a while ago to write a story set in Victorian London that combined fictional and real characters.

So Annie Miller, Dodger, Moriarty, Prince Edward and so on.

Since I’ve finished draft 1 of London Rain (also set in London but not related) and am waiting for it to marinate before returning to it, I thought I’d begin this other idea.

It’s called Scallywags of London and I’m going to write it in parts – probably 3 – each one distinct and complete in itself, but all three acting together to create a novel.


One of the keys to success is proximity. If something is easy to access, you’ll do it. If not, you’ll struggle. Bill Gates learned to use computers when he was a kid because he lived right next to a university computer suite and they kindly allowed him to play on their machines. Jimi Hendrix used to walk around his apartment wearing his guitar, he didn’t so much practice as play it, constantly, it was part of him, and you can tell.

Another key to success is flight-time. That is, how many hours you spend doing your chosen activity. When I used to teach, I spent 800 hours a year teaching and at least that amount of time planning and marking. And I focused, I bore down on it, and learned how to do it well. On the other hand when I used to run, I ran a lot, but I had no idea of how to run well, so I put in a lot of junk hours that didn’t improve me much. I ran ok, but I never ran well. So it’s flight-time, yes, but it has to be quality flight-time.

And a third key to success is knowing what you want, setting clear targets, and consciously aiming for it. This is the hard one. Daring to tell yourself what it is you really want to do. Looking ambition in the eye, and not flinching.

London Rain

I finished the first of the Julien Trent novella series – London Rain. It’s just a first draft so might change quite a bit but I’m content with the general thrust of the story. I like the idea of creating subversively generic characters and I’m becoming happier with genre fiction, and this is a combination of both.

The plot of London Rain is straightforward, but the presentation is, I hope, less obvious, less direct.

I might try and make the next one a bit more high concept.

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