Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Congratulations Sarah & Guy

Now I get to write about a pretty wonderful weekend, where I finally got to attend the wedding of my niece, Sarah Jayne. The venue was The Botleigh Grange Hotel, in Hampshire; a quaint, old-fashioned establishment that is the perfect venue for such an occasion. I booked in on the Friday, and was pleasantly surprised to receive an actual room key (as opposed to one of those blasted swipe cards) ; a long silver one with a fob at the end, stating your room number. A solid wooden door, an elegant room with a large bed; this was a classy place. All we could do now was hope that everything went well on the day.
Saturday, and after a gloomy week the sun was out and the day was warm. Ideal for a photo-shoot in the sprawling, picturesque gardens behind the hotel. First, there was much fretting and pre-wedding nerves, but I'm pleased to report that the occasion couldn't have run more smoothly. Sarah married Guy, pictures were taken on the grounds, the bridesmaids cried their eyes out, the after wedding speeches were suitably amusing. The climax was the traditional disco, complete with a sumptuous buffet. Whatever the cost of the wedding, the hotel certainly justified every penny of it.
I wish Sarah Jayne and Guy all the best for the future. Married life certainly got off to a great start for them.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Finally got around to the grim business of making a will. A painless enough process, and I now know that my family will be provided for when I kick the bucket (as opposed to those grasping vipers The Council, who'd be entitled to grab my property had I been careless enough to die intestate.

All this beggeed the question, is there such a word as 'testate'? Quick check, and the answer is yes. Now I can put that wretched document away and forget about it.

This was sorted out in time for me to enjoy the annual FantasyCon in Nottingham, where I once again celebrated my birthday. And once again it was a cracking get-together, and I got to enjoy some excellent beer in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, while meeting up with some 'olde' friends.
It seems that the World Horror Convention for 2010 is going to be held in Brighton, its first ever staging in Britain. I'm up for that, but it won't have the appeal of Chicago, New York or Toronto, which I have had the pleasure of attending in the past.

However, next thing on the agenday is a trip to Southampton for my niece Sarah's wedding. Expect a suitable humourous addition to this blog. 'Till next time ...

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 21, the Summer Solstice; a good day for a writers convention, this time at the University of Glamorgan, in Pontypridd (birthplace of Tom Jones ... just thought I'd mention it). I didn't know much about this one, it had just been mentioned in passing on an internet message board. Still, a writer called Sue Phillips, who I hadn't seen in ages, happened to be in Wales for the weekend to give a talk at the Cardiff University, so we agreed to attend this event (The Space, Time, Machine and Monsters Convention) and meet up.

I arrived at about five past nine to find the place deserted, scouted around, and eventually got directions to the car park. Luckily, the first building I checked out had a poster in the window, so I had found the right place. Now I just had to wait for people to start arriving (especially Sue and Morgan, who were depending on a Sat-Nav to get them there!)

The guests finally started to arrive, and I soon had a text message off Sue; 'Dave, we are now next to the sports hall, the only muses thing nearby is halls of residence x.' I got directions and went to get them (an act that entailed bolting up a flight of steps), looked around - then got another message saying they were now in the right place!

Returned to see quite a few familiar faces, and one or two new one's (including Rhys Hughes; I've read quite a lot of his work, but in over ten years of convention-going, this was the first time that I actually got to meet him).

We registered, then Sue, Morgan and I decided to attend a talk by the writer Philip Gross, which encouraged a collaboration process when he started a story with a location, a disturbing noise ... then left the rest up to us, and several groups came up with a number of weird and wonderful scenarios. After this, in was into the adjoining room for a discussion by Rhys Hughes on the more experimental methods of writing fiction and prose; some of which I might try, some of which I have, and some of which is totally beyond me. Either way, the sessions (as well as an excellent presentation of short films) had certainly given me back the writing bug.

At lunch time Sue left to deliver her own talk, and I caught up with the likes of Chris Teague, Brian Willis, Gary Greenwood and others. Also bought books by Tony Richards and Rhys Hughes, plus a slim collection called 'Doorways', featuring the works of half a dozen or so writers.
After lunch I passed up a (no-doubt fascinating) discussion about Doctor Who and Torchwood to attend a reading and talk by Tim Lebbon, then a final discussion about genre fiction. A few people mentioned the fact that the whole thing could have been better publicized, but the turn out was quite respectable. My only regret was that most of the panels overlapped, so I had to pass a few up (and we can't hear too much about Doctor Who and Torchwood, can we?)
There will be another outing next year, and the building is certainly well equipped for such conventions. For people with a love of the written word, it made for a fascinating day out; and it was certainly good to meet a few old friends again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There's an amusing flash fiction site called 'Micro-Horror'. Two of my stories can now be found there at . Enjoy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


The long awaited Terminal 5, at Heathrow, has finally opened; and to the surprise of no-one who has had the misfortune to pass through that incompetently-run aircraft hangar, all Hell has broken loose; hundreds of cancelled flights and thousands of lost bags, less than half the staff knowing what they are doing. No change there, then!
My trip to New York, a few years ago, was eventful enough; ticket checked, and then directed to gate 55 (and yes, this did mean walking past gate's 1, 2, 3 etc). I got to that gate after a twenty minute walk, but that was nothing compared with my trip to Canada, when the woman checking my ticket hadn't the faintest idea where to send me. I was directed across the terminal, up a flight of stairs, outside of the building and across a road, up another flight of stairs. Finally, and after checking the departures on a television screen, I realized that I was in the right place. When I did, eventually, take my seat on the plane, it felt like quite an achievement; the airport staff had been no help at all. My experience at the airport in Canada was pleasant in comparison. The same checks, but with a competent staff, and a layout that a blind man could follow. Upon leaving ,I got there early, and then spent an enjoyable couple of hours browsing in the shops. So no stress, no running around. It must be said that, with it's habit of treating passengers like cattle, Heathrow was an international disgrace, even before the fiasco of T.5.
So now the bosses are sorry, the passengers are jeering the staff, BA are facing a two million pound fine. Not before time, I say, for this is surely the worst airport in the world (although I've yet to hear a good word about Gatwick).
Last word to the shame-faced Heathrow bosses; visit a few other airports and see how it should be done, because you are in serious need of a few lessons.
In other words ... Heathrow sucks!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seeing Orange at the Movies
Had a visit from the family recently, and as usual I went to the cinema with my nephew, Andrew; this time to see a bruising British thriller called 'The Bank Job'.
Which has now set me off on a rant about all the bullshit you have to sit through while waiting for the film to start.
First, there is a sketch where someone makes a good impression by ordering their cinema tickets on-line; Film's sold out, but that's okay - we'll just pick up our tickets at the box office," announces some nerd with the pride of someone who has just discovered the Holy Grail.
Then come the commercials. Is it just me, or these ads getting more cretinous and irritating all the time? A pet hate of mine are those blue-costumed gospel singers in that U-Switch campaign (Yooooo-oooo-oooo Gotta Switch!) Yeah, switch the bastard sound down every time those idiots come on :-(
Then, after the up-and-coming movie trailers, there is the now-usual prelude; the 'Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie!' series, in which a number of well known has-been actors pitch an idea to a mobile-phone obsessed producer. These have gone beyond irritating to really pissing me off!
Finally, after sitting through about twenty minutes of guff ... we get another ad, telling us how great Dolby sound is. Then, at last, they show the bloody film ... in Dolby sound; so why waste two minutes of everyone's time advertising it? It's not like we get an option on what sound system we get.
Cinema-going never used to be like like this. A few trailers, a few ads, and then the film. At times, there would be a documentary, or maybe a short film (half hour comedy or something): but now, after all the threats about piracy, and warnings about mobile 'phones, there's no time for anything like that. Just a sigh of relief from the audience when they finally start the film (remember when it used to be called the main feature?)
Well mobile 'phones have 'never' spoiled my movie. A pity I can't say the same for those frigging trailers!