Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Buenos Aires

I'm writing this from our hotel room in San Telmo in the heat of the late afternoon. We've already got into a routine of sorts, me with my Tango workshops in the mornings , meeting for lunch then back to the hotel for a siesta, out for a stroll and then out for dinner. Of course,this being LATIN America, everyone eats late(i.e.not before 9 or 930pm).Last night after a meal at the Catalan Cultural Centre we walked a few blocks to Ave Peru and to the Queer Tango milonga. The venue - at easily passed by number 571 - was like something out of an art film. From the street the building looked like an old derelict tenanment block but there was a poster advertising the event inside the porch.We stepped into an echoey vestible which cradled a lit booth;inside sat a young woman, to whom we paid our 15 pesos. We then were directed up a sweeping art nouveau staircase enclosed by flaking green walls and eventually were confronted by double red doors(like old fashioned Gaumont cinema doors with a split down the middle- if anyone recalls those, or is that an embelishment of my vivid imagination??) We could hear the muffled sound of tango music comming from the other side and I had no option other than to surrender,quivering and filled with expectation. I wasnt dissapointed. We entered a large, dimmly lit space illuminated with(oh yes) fairy lights; a small dance floor surrounded by tables and chairs and a bar at one end of the room.It wasnt crowded .It was welcoming, though Howard was jetlagged and bored(he doesnt dance).So we soaked up the atmosphere of this intimate qeer space with men in close embrace with other men, women with women and occaisionally in imitation of the hetero mode.

All this is not getting my novel drafted BUT sublimily its good for my writers soul, I tell myself. I've decided to make the minor character in my novel - Elyes - a gentle man. Not a Gentleman you must understand but BUT a gentle man.This decision was provoked just before we came away for Christmas by a conversation I had with mini cab driver A about mini cab diver B who both work out of the same office. A is Jamaican and B from Nigeria and A ferries me about fairly often , B less often but recently more and I remarked on this to A , who said "Isnt B such an unusually gentle character" - I instantly agreed with this observation made by A because it was my own overwhelming impression of B also. His soft voice of entirely thoughtful and genuine intent, his good mannered politeness; his whole demeanour envolopes you in warmth and sincerity. This man is a giant too,he must be over 6'5" and 16stones I'd guess. Any how, at that moment I just felt it would be right to give Elyes B's gentleness trait.So, you see I havent been completely vacuous. The priority here in Buenos Aires for me is tango - obviously -when we go on to Patagonia and onto the cruise ship around Teirro del Feigo ( I'm sure thats an incorrect spelling!) thats when I plan to get into a daily writing habit again...I may try to begin here in the late afternoon after siesta if I have energy but for now we are both still recouperating from the 15 hours flight from London on 28th.


Sunday, 27 December 2009

Back from The Lookout

...and off to Argentina tomorrow.....had a great if freezing Christmas up on the Suffolk coast. Tried to interview my Kosovo Albanian GP over the phone but was informed he cannot do this as I am a patient at his practice and it isnt ethical. No writing done over christmas but finished Maupins Micheal Tolliver Lives, which I enjoyed but looking at it with a writers eye, I did find had stronger and weaker chapters.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Been preoccupied...

..with work matters the past couple of days so no writing. Today going up to The Lookout - our Aldeburgh "seat" for Christmas , so hoping to write up the research notes I did for Almir at the Walthamstow street sweeping depot earlier this week AND maybe sort the telephone interview with my GP whose an Albanian Kosovan - whilst we are up there. Have sketched out a new idea for my first chapter - Julie on the train comming home from shopping, reflects on being an outsider(from coupledom )and not really - deep down - enjoying being on her own again at 54 but trying (perhaps too hard) to make the best of it. She notices a vacant teenage girl on the train and wants to impart upon the girl the wisdom of her own years - so that this girl with a pink mobile phone glued to her ear - doesnt waste her life; so that she seizes the promise and opportunity of youth that ,only after it has passed, only does one begin to realise what a transient gift youth is. Julie also turns in her reflections towards this young man she is about to meet later that afternoon - in Walthamstow - through the Befriending Scheme. She only has a few details about him - that he is from Kosovo, he's 24 and off work with depression after witnessing that terribleaccident last month in Hoe Street when that baby was killed; that he's been in London for about a year and knows hardly a soul.And that his name is Almir Hadjic.

If anyone is out there ..what do you think ??????????????????????????????????????????

I'm also taking up to The LookOut Amistead Maupin's Micheal Tolliver Lives -which I bought the other day as soon as I spotted it in the book shop - to read and the old Dickens compilation (I've started reading A Christmas Carol to get me into the feastive mood!)...well, I know also there'll be work to sort out as things have got really busy - as usual just before I go away on extended trips! - BUT given the recession, thats all good I suppose.

The B.A. strike is now off - for the time being - so we will be flying out to Argentina with them on 28th..hooray!


Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Have just spent the afternoon at the Local Street Cleaning Depot interviewing a local Sweeper. What a useful's really given me a fantastic insight in the world of my street sweeper protagonist. I was fascinated to learn that three kinds of brush are used on the job - each with a different brushing technique....I LEARNED also about the routine of a street sweepers day, their social club/canteen and what its actually like out on the street - especially the different areas and in different seasons..really, really helpful...and I also discovered that the sweeper who I had seen all those years ago in the village who inspired my story, was actually an eastern european illegal immigrant, who was eventually discovered and my sorry is based on stop my local Kosovo Albanian contact! Then the Pentecostal church for Roland research.


Friday, 11 December 2009

Get The Latest!

I asked the cab driver this afternoon "what if a woman was crossing the road "(like that, woman now" - as we drove by one) and a car were to hit her?. Can you imagine the baby being flung out of the buggy? He answered - resoundingly, yes - of course - thats its bound to happen ---so I think , even though I have fictional licience I defend my case for the dramatic opener Mike.ANd actually I dragged up a 20 year old memory from when I worked for an inner London Borough as an OT and someone in our office witnessed exactly this kind of accident - except it had a very dark humorous side - because the kid was wearing a batman outfit and my colleague reported seeing him "fly through the air"..

Julie IS an important character, though not major - I wrote something this week on her - just a scene -with her on a train, comming back to Walthamstow from a shopping trip in town with a new designer outfit from Harvey Nics - reflecting on being single again at 54 and inspite of all outward appearences, enjoying her newfound freedom", nagging away inside her is a recurring rumination that she's just "making the best of a bad situation" this way Julie introduces the theme of being outside( couple dom!) and wanting to be loved/give love. On the train she moves to reflecting on who this person Almir - who she's going to meet later that afternoon -is. All she knows about him is his name...he's from Kosovo and his age and that he's been here for a year and knows no one really; thats he's off work because he witnessed that terrible incident a month previuos where the baby was killed in the High st. In this way I plan to also introduce the notion that Almir has an unknown past and this is confirmed when she meets him.Also the unforseen disruption randon, tradgic events can wreek on peoples (often very contructed) lives - which are built often prinarily about doing and status v.v. emotional bonds with each other.

So, Julie is my vehicle for introducing the main themes of the novel in the first chapter - then we go to chpter 2, which will be the baby killed in the street incident.... you see...??

have also organised to visit and observe a Pentecostal CHURCH SERVICE TO absorb some cultural/religious background for Roland Mc Kenzies. Next week I am going to contact my GP who is Kosovo Albanian - I have made a list of questions I want to know : What were your first impressions of Walthastow on arrival here(smells, people, cultural differences etc - what did you miss most about Kosovo - eg food, friendliness of the people, climate, t.v shows

also some questions about attitude to gays and more specific things re Kosovo to fill in the gaps I have from my internet research already completed.

I have downloaded personal testimonials from Gay men who have fled Kosovo because of discrimination and homophobic harrassment... Also about the Kosovo War and some witness accounts of accrocities and ethnic persecution ...

phew - BUT ---dA da da da DAhhh...., I'm Lovin' It!


Friday, 4 December 2009

up early after a night out!

up early after a night out!

My response to Charlottes comments on my synposis

I'm blushing. Seriously, Charlotte so many thanks for taking the time to read my synopsis so carefully and give me this very constructive nad enormously positive feedback. I have yours printed out and ready to read(after I've done more on my essay for Alison!) have the sentiment of what I want to write and had hoped my synopsis conveys - exactly. These themes are contemporary and will touch all our lives at some point,if they havent done so already.

As you are my fav. person of the moment( cos you also came to Decongested and lent your support last Friday too)..I am going to share a secret with you that no one else has yet leaned of( it' s about the plot of my Novel - dont panic!)...Trudies'murderer - the reader will discover at the end of the book - is the disaffected teen dad of the baby so shockingly killed at Almir's feet in the opening.( Oh, and I've decided to call the baby's mum "Kimberely" - but you wont get to hear much about her, shes just part of the back story)

and...yesterday I phoned my local Council and introduced myself as a writer, requesting a visit to the street sweepers depot! I''ll let you know how this goes. I feel so really fired up about this story, its becomming something that almost wants to tell itself. The characters seem increasing very real to me and I actually care about them. The trick I guess is to write it so well that the reader cares with the same passion as I do.


some feed back on my synopsis from Charlotte(a fellow City student)

Love the dramatic opening – immediately felt sympathy with Almir, because he seems alone and vulnerable. Something very poignant about him coming to the UK for a new start, only to have this awful thing happen. Think the idea of him having this heightened sense of perception is very interesting – and am glad that you toned that down so he’s not actually a psychic – that would seem to make it a different sort of novel.

‘After twenty years, Trudy is still searching for the right man and her biological clock is ticking.’ – poor Trudy, I know the feeling!! I am not quite clear in which way he is drawn to her though – to start with I thought he was attracted to her but not sure if that’s the intention? Is it her unhappiness which intrigues him? I know this would become clear in the novel but perhaps there’s a different way to express his interest in her in the synopsis…
I was shocked when she was murdered – wondered if you were planning to lead the reader to believe something else is going to develop with Trudy, so that it really feels unexpected when she dies? That’s how it comes across in the synopsis and I think that could be intriguing.

I like Almir’s conflict about Roland – that felt very believable and again elicits sympathy for him. Am assuming his plan to marry is partly or mostly cultural? That feels a very topical, sad conflict. I don't quite trust Roland from your synopsis, but think that is perhaps because I am feeling protective of Almir! And of course in the novel itself there will be far more detail about Roland so perhaps I wouldn't feel like that then. Think it is a good sign i have strong feelings about Almir though!

Julie is a great character – always find self-delusion interesting.

Overall – love the way the plot develops, I’d definitely read this novel. I find Almir a really convincing character and sympathise with him even though he was involved in atrocities [that idea of ordinary, good people getting caught up in terrible things is fascinating]. Great theme of loneliness – that felt very well-explored – Almir an outsider, Roland in his way an outsider, the two women also lonely [would Trudy have ended up bitter and alone like Julie had she lived?] It seems the thing to believe these days is that it’s ok to be on your own, the main issue is to be happy in yourself, whereas I feel that loving and being loved IS an intrinsic human need, and wanting love is nothing to be ashamed of. Really like the way that comes across from your synopsis, and I also think on so many levels that is a very topical theme – lots of loneliness around, esp in cities. I always love books which conjure up the randomness of life – it isn’t neat and tidy, and just because something bad has happened, it doesn’t mean that something good comes next! I think you’ve used that element so well here – it’s a theme in itself and also you’ve employed it very cleverly in your plot.

...............................(thank you Charlotte)........................................................................................................................................................

I have a few tweeks to make to the final verson of the synopsis, then will post it on here( not that anyone seems to be following this!


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Its been a week I know...

Since I last posted. My reading at Decongested at Foyles on 27th went like a treat, with a sizable entourage in support - including 3 from the City course(but regretably no one from Forest Writers) ...A total starnger come up to me at the end of the evenning an complimented me on my story(Give & take) which made me feel good, I could see she really meant it. We all went off to Maison B in Soho for tea and cake afterwards, then H , Ruth and me walked up to Oxford Circus and got the tube back home to Walthamstow. Ruth read my other short story that has appeared in Decongested Tales " Seein' Red" on the journey back, and said she loved it!

Synopsis needs a litttle more tweeking but should be on here soon now.

Last night walking back fom Uni up Upper St I observed a kid outside a newsagents shop with one of those Dangerous dogs on a link metal chain lead. He let it pee up the hoarding proped up against the window of the shop. The hoarding had some Evenning standard headline on it. I might use this image somewhere in my novel - when Trudie gets murdered and the news breaks. Its irreverance summs up what I want to say at that point. I had quite alot of new thoughts at the w/e (we went up to our house in Aldeburgh) about plot and how a few new ingredients might set things alight more. Must go as need to go up to have a CRB check done for work - then need to plough on with my essay for the course(I'm analysing SlaughterHouse 5 )

BG added

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Its been an interesting week. tutorialed my synopsis for this novel and then, yesterday rewrote it. Am prety ok with the result but lets see how it goes down on Wednesday when i workshop it in class. Did a writing excersize which turned into a short, short...thought it might be worth submitting somewhere - so have sent it (again) to Decongested. Wipe board still blank but note books filed together now and I know where I am going with this.

Does anyone other than me ever read my blog?Is there other life out there somewhere. Who looks at writers blogs?WELL, ITS A BRIGHT AND SUNNY DAY SO AM GOING OUT FOR A SHORT BIKE RIDE AROUND THE VILLAGE.


Sunday, 15 November 2009

yesterday again!

Yesterday participated in an excellent writers workshop with Vicky Grut in a pub room at the lower end of Theobalds road...we were a small group - always good -and did some straight forward creative writing excersizes and as often is the case some very useful stuff emerged - some of which I know is going to be useful in my approach to the novel(and I may even have some actual new base references for prose ! So that was definately worth it. It was strange seeing my writers bio in the workshop portfolio - God, Ive come so far in the past few years, since that hell period when I shuffled around indooors and couldnt imagine in my wildest dreams even a short walk up the road!If anyone's ever does peak at this blog who has or know someone with CFS/ME - I do hope that my story will inspire! (Talking of MY Story i NEED TO WORK TO COMPLETE THAT(the BBC My Story True amazing stories competition - Ive done a first draft on my new workbook but it needs atleast a couple of more dedicated sesssions)It' s almost unbelievable. Undoubtly Forest Writers were a milestone - before that I fwelt very much on my own and in the dark.

After the workshop met H - I took a black cab for 6 quid to the Barbi and did a metta Bav Meditation in the basement(though it was busy and noisy iy didntseem to bother me); I so got into my meditation that 5pm came and went without me being aware of it and I missed our agreed rondevous at that time outside the Waterside cafe. When I got there afeww minutes late, H was not there ; just recieved an answerphone message to ask where I was. When I caled him his phone went onto answerphone so I ended up having dinner aloneBUT I was surprised by the deliciousness of the food(usually its a last resort sallon if I we end up eating there!) I had steak and kidney pie witj pumpkin and garlic mash, which was a bit gloopy but tasted very good - and a side of very passble carrot and red cabbage.

Tmes ticking and I need to shower and clear the dinningroom table of an avalnche of bloody papers and then get cooking spag bol for luch - Robert and Andrew are comming for Lee and then we plan to walk to Springfield Park. Its a nice sunny day!


IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE - do identify yourself. Do comment!


yesterday again!



Friday, 13 November 2009

more thoughts regarding a big blank white board!

...yes, the board is still blank but I know how its going to look just not had time to do yet! Wednesday I went to LBC and did a good long meditation sit then went straight off to the Uni library and drafted my novel synopsis in two hours. Yesterday I spent another 2 re writing it having read it to my partner(Howard, consider yourself introduced to my public!)..its almost there I feel but we'll see what my tutorial says and the workshopping the week after next before I post it here.

Have now put all my old note books in one place.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I have thought about the plot ..and....will have a synopsis completed within the next few days.I need to go through my note books one more time.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Another reading at Foyles!

I will be reading a new short story at Tales of The Decongested at Foyles in the Charing Cross Road in London on 27th November - so - anyone reading this - if youre interested do come( and say hello)...its a great event to showcase the short story genre! HERE ARE THE DETAILS:

The event will be on the 27th at Foyles - usual place, same time of 7pm. This time it really will be our last ever event at the bookshop. We decided to stay when we accepted a submission from an author called Jason Merrells who, it turns out, is a bit of a TV celebrity. Hopefully it'll attract a few extra guests. I don't think we'll exactly get a Wembley sized crowd, but we're expecting to get enough bums on seats to actually break even for once!But anyway, any hoards you can attract from your side will be much appreciated. As an added incentive, if they buy their tickets from our website ( they'll get their first glass of wine free.


Monday, 2 November 2009

My very B I G white board is up! B l a n k and virginal and waiting for me to begin!


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Two nights without much sleep and I am like a zombie. oH, HOW i HATE NOT SLEEPING! M anaged to get to Uni class last night by minicab. However they sent Two driver to collect me! I got in one car then got out of that car and into the car of the guy who'd dropped me off originally. I felt bad because driver number two came all the way from the same cab office in Walthamstow and ended up with no fare...still, not my fault and what to do? My lack of sleep from night one caused be to be irratable and rude(I thought) I asked the driver to tell me his story..where he was from etc...(India, Bangalore, been in London 8 years, was an engineer, had si xmonths in Germany before comming here, London a great city, some asain people find it lonely - cos they never go out - but not me, I got an ulcer, used to work for Bank of Scotland, lost my job, things are difficult for me at the moment, personal problems too, I've had a job offer from Dubai but I dont want to leave London - but - I may have too, been cabbing for 3 months, not what I want but sometimes you have to do these things to get by, its a job anyway)...ME - "OH." (and what can I say to that!)

Thought I would copy out here something thats going on to a white card later; Goodness knows where I am going to use it but its such a great snippet I just have to write it down. (It was related to me by my yoga teacher who is a 32 year old female New Yorker)Here it is:
"Last week I met
a transexual psychic who used to be a porn producer who says she still likes women but is not a lesbian. The thing is I have this feeling she fancies me." I need to catch up with some sleep now.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

my note book, concealed inside my shoulder bag, had a close encounter with a leaking bottle of water and I almost lost my precious scribblings! I need to copy them all out onto cards SOON...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Good morning! Have sorted out work - My Company has an Away Day tomorrow - so am now a free read extract from The Guardian article(did Emily give this to us/or Alison???) on Richard Ford by Laura Barton.....about his relationship to the process of writing. Very know, much of these techniques I have already been using, the notebook on my person when out and about to capture bits of overheard conversation for character dialogue and profound, interesting observations of people and situations. What I've noticed about my own approach is that I 'll often have a thought - a phrase or even a picture like the scene from a film in my head, of a character saying or doing or even thinking something...also threads of plot or just a completely obtuse idea...(Ive started getting them again after a fallow period over the summer, so the City course must be helping). On Monday night I was forced by a few of these 'pressing friends' as I like to refer to them - to get out of bed, shortly after I had got into bed to retire for the night - and jot them down in my note book.

Yesterday evenning I had a brilliant Tango lesson in Moorgate! #######################

Dancing Argentine Tango is creative food for my soul. It also feeds my writing, as does going to the pictures(which I did after tango). I met Howard at Maison Berteaux in Soho around eight and we shared a pot of green (real leaves!!) tea. We sat in the ante room so I could eat my illicit brought from home sandwich as he munched on a piece of cheese and broccoli quiche. Another (young arty )couple are seated infront of us - he looks Italian...shoulder length dark hair, unshaven look, expensive sweater with a geometric pattern.The girl with him is caramel dark with set, shortish black hair. I cant make out whether they are lovers on an early stage-affair -date(there is a slight awkwardness about him; the way he keeps putting his elbows on and of the table) or just aquiantances. She gets up to visit the toilet(in the adjacent building and upstairs, so I know, and so will Mr. Italiano know, she will be gone for a while - especially if there is a que , which is possible as next door where they take your order IS busy).Mr Italiano turns himself round in his chair so that he is almost directly facing me(and Howard's back)...he is clearly uncomfortable with something or someone because he is unable to sit still, even for 30 seconds. He opens his legs allowing his crotch to unfold into full view. He looks about small refreshment arena , at Howard's back , then me, though careful not to engage a look;then at the couple of young japanese girls who've not long arrived and sat down to frothy lattes and great slice each of layered cream cake. I make a few notes in that cafe - because it's where I have the idea - about starting my novel in the first person - with the protagonist, who has - under a witness protection scheme - been reassigned a complete new identity - telling us how it feels to having to rote learn an internal history belonging to someone else ; an old friend who you've never known or met - having to let go of you own past(having dementia or a dose of old style ETC would be helpful- the emptyness he feels - like the gap at the end of a shelf vacated by a loaned out library book- awaiting the return...well, something like that..I cant wait to get on with it now; I am almost wetting my pants(well - perhaps that the strong tea I had earlier) into town and another Tango lesson at ....later.....

Oh, after about 10 miutes, the caramel girl comes back in and I notice that she's wearing very sexual knee length brown boots. They fit so tightly they seem moulded onto her lower legs.One of the boots has a scratch like an open wound along the top inside edge.She doesnt notice I have noticed this but I look up and understand by the look that Mr Italiano gives me, followed by a flash grin, that he has.

If anyone IS reading chip in with your pennith worth!


Thursday, 22 October 2009

..have now got over the cold that was bugging me over the weekend...Mon and Wed at uni...the course bit thats the horse whip (and sometimes I hope) the carrot to keep me on track with the novel. Yesterdays class was particualrly helpful - character building stuff- I am begining to feel that my original idea of the new ID imigrant street sweeper protagonist fleeing the Balkan conflict story line will work for a novel....have begun scribbling on white cards and have cleared space in my home office for a white board. Then I need to dig up my old /existing notes on Sweeping Up The Village(I may now retitle it as The Man with Burnt Hands)...all will be revealed at a later date - watch out for my novel synopsis which will come by 18th Novemeber.

On my way home last night after class I noted down on a scribble card something that I found moving/striking/intersting ....3 (youngish) unshaven men, well dressed but not enough clothes for the turning weather thats arrived - lying drunk(to blot out!??..they looked Eastern European) in a dishevelled heap in front of the air vent at Angel Tube station . Then it dawned on me that they were there because the warm air blowing out of the station vent was keeping them warm..they had a kind of ironic serene expression of their faces..
then, back at home, I watched "Banged up abroad"on TV and learned about how hostages feel under the threat of execution and ongoing torture..all noted down and potentialy of use somewhere along the line.
Elaine my housekeeper is leaving so I have to go now.

OH, I HAD A NOTHER SHORT STORY ACCEPTED BY TALES OF THE DECONGESTED - they want me to read it at their November event..its "Give &Take" - the piece at wrote and workshoped on the Chroma Queer writers residential recently...thats 3 shorts I've had published within 12 months! Off to not too bad a start then.....

Well, here we go!!

Well, here we go!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

week one

Well, got off to a resounding start with a C O L D! which I picked up from my partner who had it earlier this week. Began the day with all good intentions by reading (starting)- The Good Soldier -by Ford Maddox Ford ,but the cold has made me feel larthargic - so - havent got beyond the intro ( which is v good by the way)...need to sort my existing note books/begin posting up ideas on my wall in the office. My little back room hide away. The view from my window is not inspiring - the bathroom sill of next doors flat - with net curtin blowing to and fro above a row of non descript toiletries.BG