My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE TO FIND LINKS TO ALL FOUR BOOKS

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Prehensile Underpants, and the Tale of Uncle Funkle's Cirumnavigation of the Wintry Isles

'They're clinging on lads!  I can't get them off!'

'Of course you can't.  They have a mind of their own.  They have preternaturally strong hands that can grip preternaturally strongly - that's what preternatural prehensile strength means...' I snapped, before going back to my paper.  I didn't really know what I was talking about, but I didn't care.  I had not a shred of sympathy for the T-G and his underpants problem.  Serve him right for encouraging Val Nark by buying her latest 'wares'. 'Look Geoffrey - it says here they're building a community centre up at the tourist car park. What a sodding nightmare that will be.'

'Yes Val mentioned that last week when I booked us into her Positive Mind, Positive whatsit class.  She's going to be in charge.'

'You what?  Why ever didn't you tell me?'

'I thought you wouldn't be interested.  You don't like that kind of thing.  You're not community minded.'

'Who says?'

'Everybody. You as well now I come to think of it.  You don't like village life.  You think it's claustrophobic and unhealthy and full of nosey-parkers and crass bores who like being big fish in small ponds.  You say it every time you look out of the window to see what's going on.'

'Val Nark's got a finger in every pie that's going,'  I replied briskly, folding the paper and placing it on the packing case that served us (very well, as it happens) as a table.  'And it's the community-minded types among us who have to put a stop to her appalling megalomania.  I should oil these,' I added, picking up one of my several pairs of high-powered binoculars and polishing the lenses on my dressing-gown sleeve.

'Excuse me for interrupting,'  interrupted the T-G, 'But can you two stop gossiping about the community centre - which I fully intend to torch by the way, so do stop fretting Tuppy - and help me get these dreadful underpants OFF MY BODY?!  I need to go to the toilet rather urgently.  In fact I've been needing since half past three this morning.'

'Fetch the blowtorch Geoffrey,' I said, relenting. 'Let's see what we can do.'

'Rightyoh.'

*EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!*

The Underpants
The underpants emitted an earsplitting shriek.  'Leave us be!  We're not doing anyone any harm!'

'Yes you are.  I need to go to the jiminy-cricketing toilet.  My late uncle Funkle became faecally impacted after spending three weeks in an open boat when he was circumnavigating the Wintry Isles.  I've never forgotten the horror of what he told me.  I had nightmares for years I tell you.  Years.  And it isn't going to happen to me. Get off me.'

'You only had to ask,' huffed the underpants, sliding to the floor. 'Hi everyone!  Pleased to meet you!  Can we stay?  We've got biscuits.'

next time - the underpants move in, and refuse to move out until they hear the Wintry Tale of Uncle Funkle....

Find this week's free Tuppy & Geoffrey download here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Penguin-Extractor-Outcrop-Selections-ebook/dp/B007KUXBM2 and zillions more like it via my Amazon page here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Today's Novel Progress Chart, or 'N.P.C.'

Today's N.P.C.
Flatlining.  Might get some done later.  In the middle of trying to organise money so that I can survive while writing a novel.  It's an ever-decreasing circle.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Free Download Today - and an excerpt.

Sea Penguin Part Four - the Soul Extractor is available for free download today and for the next four after that.  It's the fourth book in my series of collected Tuppy and Geoffrey tales, originally written right here on the blog in about 2010 or 11 I think, and published on Kindle in 2012 - here's the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Penguin-Extractor-Outcrop-Selections-ebook/dp/B007KUXBM2

Here's an excerpt from the book.

Well that's me safe and well back at the Outcrop. I'm sitting in my favourite chair by a roaring driftwood fire and I'm settling down with my fifth mug of Madeira and a multi pack of salty snax. Geoffrey's got sausage rolls in for our dinners so all's right with the world. How did I escape? Well - the smell of frying fruit pudding wafting under my nostrils made me desperate so I breathed in as hard as I could, expanding my chest and stretching the gaffer tape to snapping point - when suddenly - "What the heck's going on here then?" a familiar voice boomed. "I'll be having some of that. ALL of it actually. IF you don't mind." It was none other than Mr Spockfingers. He seized the frying pan from the Grim Reaper and wolfed the lot in a oner.
"Hey! what about me?" I cried. "I'm starving!"
"All in good time," said Spockfingers. "I'm just waiting for..."
"Never mind him. What about ME?" crooned the Reaper, brandishing his scythe.
"AND me!" whined Wilson in the nasty whingey voice he uses when he's not in full control.
"... nature to take its course," continued Spockfingers.
"Oh NO!" we all screamed, as Spockfingers let rip with one of his "specials". And if you want to know about the damage THAT can do - please have a search through previous posts. At any rate it's an ill wind as they say - the Reaper and the Ghastly Wilson fled for their lives, and I managed to place some Vick's under my nose and high-tail it back to the Outcrop.

Post Forty One

Last night we were awakened by a terrible din - a sort of clattering, rumbling noise. Apsley and Cherry heard nothing due to their octuple glazing, but pretty soon we heard the tippetty- tap of the Tupfinder General's cane as he hurried along the cliff -tops towards the source of the sound.
"It's Tuppence! He's up to his old tricks again!" he shouted. "I’ve been keeping watch as usual, and now I'm off to intervene!"
With difficulty we heaved ourselves off our sun loungers and headed after him. The clattering, rumbling, sucking noise grew louder and louder, as we neared the source.
"Be careful lads. Look!" said the T-G, beckoning with his pistol. We were at the mouth of a gigantic cave. Inside, illuminated by an arc light powered by rats on several bicycles, was a chair. Tied to the chair, was a terrified female sheep, with what looked like a metal colander on her head with some tubing coming out of it and going in to a bucket, which in turn set off the colander contraption, or, as the label on it stated, "Mind-muck Removal Device”.
"Oh, she's got a very clear conscience," said Tuppence. "How tiresome. No muck to remove, at all. We need to find another victim to experiment on. Aha! Visitors! Perfect!"
Oh no. He had spotted us... "We're armed," said the T-G.
"Yes, I can see that you've got a pistol AS USUAL," smirked Tuppence, "but AS USUAL it's half-cocked, just like you." And with an evil chuckle, he yanked a lever in the wall and a giant net dropped down on top of us. In a trice we were whizzing through the air, suspended above a bottomless pit of fire. Far below, we saw thousands of rats scurrying around with lengths of tubing, attaching them to bubbling, smoking test tubes. "What's going on?" we gasped in unison.
"Welcome to Muckfast Abbey," shrilled Tuppence, removing a pistol from his belt and twirling it in a devil-may-care fashion.


Smart, Kate (2012-03-15). Sea Penguin: Part Four - The Soul Extractor - Still More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections) (Kindle Locations 1733-1742).  . Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

My Novel Progress Chart, or 'N.P.C.'



Like Mrs T-G I have also started writing a novel, and after a bit of thinking and wondering I've now got a plan and a pattern for it, which appeals to me, and which doesn't feel too daunting. Unlike Mrs T-G, I don't live in Tupfinder Towers in a magical world where 'munny' is not required, so I'm not able to lock myself away in an 'upper room', and I have to earn to survive at the same time, which is an absolute pain in the neck to be honest.  However.  I don't want to live in a tent eating berries by the roadside, so I'll just have to shut up and get on with it.
I'll chart my progress along the way.

The Underpants that Can't be Destroyed

Geoffrey's 'special ornament'
We had a visit from the Tupfinder General last night.  He had a terrible case of the jitters. He was twitching so much that at one point he accidentally fired off a round from his sawn-off shotgun and smashed Geoffrey's 'special ornament' - a ceramic boot which he brought back as a keep-sake from a holiday in Kyle of Lochalsh in 1974, and which has been gathering dust on the mantlepiece ever since.
'I'm sure it will mend as good as new Geoffrey,'  I soothed. 'Fetch the superglue. I'm sure we've still got some left in the Box of Useful Stuff under the sink, from when we managed to fix the lavatory seat.  I was keeping it specially for emergencies in case I had to glue someone's mouth shut.  But your 'special ornament' takes precedence, and we can always get more.  By someone, I don't mean you, of course.'
'Why are you being so kind to me Tuppy?  It isn't like you.'
'I don't know.'  It was true.  I didn't know, and it wasn't like me.  In fact, it was quite alarming.  But I'd think about that later.  In the meantime, we had the raving Tupfinder General to deal with.
Apparently,  Mrs T-G started writing a 'novel' yesterday morning, and is refusing to do any of her usual 'household activities' until she's written it.
'I'm going demented Tuppy!' he raved, 'She's locked herself in the upper room and she won't come out till it's done, and mark my words it'll take sodding YEARS for her to finish it. She can't even write a shopping list without consulting a thesaurus at least fifteen times.  I'm even having to make my own tea!  And I can't find my best socks. The stripey ones with no holes in. I've no clean underpants left and I don't know how to work the washing machine, and we've run out of biscuits and that blue stuff that she puts down the toilet.  What am I going to do?'
'Oh I wouldn't worry about your underpants T-G,' I began.
'We wear ours till they go crusty don't we Tuppy?' interrupted Geoffrey. 'And then we turn them inside out.  After that, they disintegrate.  In fact, we're rather needing new underpants ourselves, aren't we Tuppy? Would you like one of our biscuits, T-G? We've got loads.'
The T-G sighed and sat down on the squashiest part of the settee.
Just then, Razor Bill arrived with the post.  'Can't stop lads,' he said,'I'm doing a leaflet drop for the Narks. Val's giving me a week's supply of flapjacks if I get it done before lunch.'
I picked up the leaflet. 'Hmm.  Look, T-G.  This just might solve your problem...'
'What is it, Tuppy?' asked Geoffrey, peering over my shoulder.
'Val Nark's started a new line in her shop.  She's selling indestructible underpants.  She's making them herself and weaving them out of nettle fibres and thistles.  Apparently, they're indestructible due to their - and I quote - 'PRETERNATURAL PREHENSILE STRENGTH'. Good grief.'
'They sound like just the very dab!' said the T-G, leaping to his feet (or foot). 'I'm off up to the Narks to get a pair.'

Later - Geoffrey admits that he believes a 'thesaurus' is a type of prehistoric dinosaur-style monster, and the T-G models his new underpants...and encounters a not-entirely-unpredictable problem......

Find more of my Tuppy and Geoffrey tales here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Whinge of the Week, and the Mysterious Yoyo Wrapper




Geoffrey was the star turn at the ghastly 'Whingers Anonymous Club' last night.  He came home at half past eight, waving his badge and absolutely full of himself.
'Tuppy!  guess what?  I was the star turn with my whinge 'Why oh why must people call Sandwiches Sangwidges'!  They loved it!  They loved ME! I'm getting a hamper and everything!' he enthused for the umpteenth time, twirling and pirouetting round the settee. 'Next week I'm going to whinge about people who call sandwiches sarnies. It's simply intolerable, isn't it Tuppy?  Calling sandwiches sarnies.  It should really be sannie, shouldn't it Tuppy?  I'm right, aren't I Tuppy? They're going to love it - and ME - all over again!  I can't wait!'
http://seapenguin-thecurioussheep.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/whinge-of-week-sudoku.html'THIS is intolerable Geoffrey.  It's half past twelve in the afternoon and you're still raving on.
 Neither of us has had a wink of sleep, and if you don't shut your pie-hole NOW, I'm going to be
forced to shut it for you.  Now let that be an end to it.'
'An end to what? I'm entitled to enjoy my small successes.  I've little enough in life to enjoy, Tuppy.  I lead an impoverished existence.'
'Who sez that?'
'Val Nark.  She said it.'
'When?  You never mentioned it before, and it's definitely the kind of thing you WOULD mention,
under normal circumstances.'
But this wasn't 'normal circumstances'.  Not by a long stretch.  And we both knew it.  I was still on a health kick, and Geoffrey had gone stark staring bonkers. I sighed heavily, and out of sheer habit, tapped my pipe against the chimney breast.  Three spiders, a screwed up toffee Yoyo wrapper and a shred of tobacco fell out.  I picked up the tobacco and sniffed it longingly.
'Where did that Yoyo wrapper come from?' asked Geoffrey, pausing in mid-pirouette and collapsing - FINALLY! - on the settee.
'It isn't mine.'
'Come off it!  You've been eating chocolate biscuits on one of your five starvation days, haven't you?'
'Shut up Geoffrey, and use what's left of your pea-sized brain.  They haven't made Yoyos since the 1980s.'
'Where did the wrapper come from then?'
'I don't know.'  It was true.  I didn't know.  I picked up the screwed-up foil wrapper, and smoothed it out on my knee. 'Besides, what's a toffee Yoyo wrapper, compared to Val Nark telling you that you lead a so-called 'impoverished existence'?  The total cow.'
'I know, she is isn't she.  She said that last night at the Whingers Anonymous Club.  But I shouldn't tell you that because if people know who attends it won't be Anonymous anymore.  It's all meant to be hush-hush.'
'Nothing's hush-hush Hereabouts Geoffrey, as we know to our cost.  All the neighbours have night vision binoculars and telescopes.'
'I know Tuppy.  I'm glad I've told you now.  I don't like Val.  She always makes me feel bad about myself and I get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I have to spend more than two seconds with her.'
'I feel the same Geoffrey.  Luckily we never have to spend more than one, or indeed any seconds, with her.  So the issue doesn't arise.  It's a moot point or dead in the water or whatever. You know what I mean.'
'Oh I do Tuppy.  Only - '
'What?' My heart sank.
'I've agreed to attend her Positive Body, Positive Mind class on a Friday morning, up in the yurts.  In fact, I've signed us both up for it.  It's only six pounds a week for the two of us Tuppy - we've to wear loose clothing and no shoes....'  he babbled, backing away from me as I seized the poker and flung the Yoyo wrapper furiously into the fire....

Next time - the Yoyo wrapper mystery deepens, and there is an underpants crisis...

Find more Tuppy and Geoffrey tales in my five e-books and paperback here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1


Friday, 25 July 2014

Today's Walk - helping a grounded swift


Another very short walk round my local area, due to the aforementioned sore foot.  Just fifty yards or so from my house I found a grounded swift, stranded in the middle of the road.  I don't know how it got there.  Swifts don't land, and it would be rare for them to fly low enough to be hit by a car I think, especially in the high pressure that we have at the moment.
Anyway, I picked it up, and was horrified to see literally dozens of vile parasites crawling and scurrying around beneath it - bad enough seeing them on the ground, but then, loads of the revolting things started swarming out of the swift's feathers and running nimbly up my arm.  I'm not squeamish about insects and I respect all living things, but these are hard things to tolerate.  Flat flies, I believe they are called, and very common on swifts. Difficult to brush them off quickly while holding the bird and trying not to alarm it.  Nevertheless I managed to remove quite a lot of them from both myself and the bird, and I'm fairly sure the swift felt better for it.  (I know I did!)
I carried the swift uphill towards a nearby field, holding it aloft as you see in the photo; the swift began to perk up and take an interest. When I got to the gate at the top of the field I stopped and gently moved my arm forwards.  Luckily, there was a tiny breeze and the swift opened its wings in response and then took off, straight from my hand.  Its fellows were not far away, circling the church spire as usual, and I'm sure it quickly found its family.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Walk of the Day....


Not very far I'm afraid, as I've a very sore foot at the moment.  Managed to totter round the field near my house...
It's planted with potatoes this year.  Often it's barley, as I've mentioned before I think.  Lots of swallows and martins around at the moment, the weather's been good for them.  I usually see buzzards sitting on the telegraph poles by the field, and there are yellowhammers and goldfinches.  On one occasion, to my amazement, I saw two sea eagles.  Sometimes I'll spot an osprey soaring over. And once, I saw a kingfisher zipping along the burn that runs along the side of the field.

Willowherb very pretty at this time of year...




Riff of the Day - Smoak on the Wotter

'ER ER ER, ER ER ERER, ER ER ER, ER ER ER  *repeat until your ears bleed, then bring in the drums*

'BOOMBIDDY BOOMBIDDY'  'ER ER ER, ER ER ER ER...' 'Scream loudly, &c.'

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Word that doesn't seem like a word of the day - BACON

Perhaps it's just me, but you know when you stare at a word for a while in a certain way and it doesn't seem like that word any more?  THAT.
Bacon is today's word that doesn't seem like that word any more.

B...A...C...O...N

It sounds like a town in Georgia, USA.

I won't call it BACON any more, because it just doesn't feel quite right.  I'll call it the thinly-sliced pink and white stuff in the packet at the bottom of the fridge, that sizzles when you place it under a hot grill or in a frying pan.
Might get an 'old-fashioned' look from the butcher if I go in asking for half-a-pound-of-smoked-that though.
I suppose I can always point.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Fact of the Week - Moving the Bathroom Scales around a bit makes you Lose Weight

'If I move the scales from one side of the bathroom to the other I can lose two pounds! Isn't that remarkable Geoffrey?'
I knew it wasn't remarkable, of course.  I was only asking because I didn't have anything else to say, and I felt like saying something.
Anything, really.  I could have said the word 'something' or indeed 'anything' instead of raving on about the bathroom and the scales and my apparent weight loss.  But what would have been the point of that?  You can't go anywhere from 'something' and 'anything'. They're conversation stoppers, unless you're a fan of the odd.  I would have said 'unless you're a fan of the surreal', but that would have been over-egging an already over-egged pudding.
And we can't have that.
Geoffrey is not a fan of the 'surreal'.  He doesn't even know what it means, the thick twa...
'I do so too!  And I will demonstrate just how much of a fan I am by slicing your eyeball open while smoking a pipe that isn't a pipe and reciting passages from Salvador Dali's mind-numbingly dull treatise on farting.'
Oh dear.  I forgot about...
'...my mind-reading capability!  Yes you did, didn't you Tuppy.  Don't worry - I won't slice your eyeball open, I was only joking.'
'What a side-splitter.  I can see that your knowledge of the so-called surreal extends only to the mind-cudgellingly obvious and the stonkingly banal.'
It was no use.  My brain felt like a dried pea, rattling about in an empty, spidery drawer and nothing to amuse itself with but the rapidly-fading memory of better days and a forgotten potato that had gone all soft and sprouty.
'Fetch the opium,  Geoffrey.  I'm afraid it's going to be one of THOSE evenings.'


Find this week's free download here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Penguin-Fireside-Outcrop-Selections-ebook/dp/B007IKMM7E

Find my other e-books here (all Tuppy & Geoffrey tales, similar to the above except OLDER http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Teeth-gritting Sound of the Week

'GNNNNRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR........................'

Book of the Week: Gruts, by Ivor Cutler

I got this from Amazon ( as usual).  I think it's probably out of print, although it shouldn't be.  This edition dates from 1962 and is published by The Museum Press.  Price 7s. and 6d. on inside of dust cover.  It cost me £6.37 which is a heck of a lot more than I usually pay for a book, as anyone who reads the blog will know, so you will understand how much I wanted it.  And that was by far the cheapest option available by the way.  It was sent from the U.S.A., oddly enough.
Anyway, it's a book I will treasure.  It contains a load of tales,  poems, drawings, songs and stories, some of which I already know.  For example,  'Old Cups of Tea', and 'The Dirty Dinner'.  ''OH!  What's that on the dining-room table?  Jim!  Jim!  Come here.  What's that on the dining-room table?''  ''It's a big pile of dirt, Mammy.''
And so it goes on.  'The rent had not been paid for 31 years and the landlord was becoming restive.'  A gem.  I would write more, only I don't have time.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fact of the Day - A Lot of Stuff on the Internet is Bullshit

I don't think I need say any more about that.

This week's free download

Just another reminder that the third instalment of Tuppy and Geoffrey Sea Penguin blog episodes is available for free download from Amazon today and for the next few days.  Here's the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Penguin-Fireside-Outcrop-Selections-ebook/dp/B007IKMM7E

It involves Tuppy being stuck in the belly of a whale and I think Val and Dave Nark, eco warriors and sustainable living entrepreneurs, make their first appearance.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Free Download on Wednesday 16th

One of my series of five e-books, containing zillions of 'Tuppy and Geoffrey' adventures, escapades, and general nonsense,  Sea Penguin Part Three - Death at Your Fireside is free to download for five days as from tomorrow, Wednesday 16th.  Here's the link. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Penguin-Fireside-Outcrop-Selections-ebook/dp/B007IKMM7E

Find all five here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Fact of the Day - The Human Brain looks like Cod's Roe...

The brain is a strange and fishy thing that looks quite like cod's roe, if you narrow your eyes and turn the lights down a bit.  As a child I was given fried cod's roe to eat and I really liked it, especially with Heinz tomato ketchup, or 'red sauce' as some like to call it.
Although I remember liking it, I haven't eaten it since I was about eight I have to say.  I can still remember the texture - sort of like under-cooked cous cous or polenta.  As a child, I wouldn't have been aware of what I was eating.  The cod's roe would have been simply cod's roe.  It wouldn't have been fish ovaries. The thought of it makes me heave these days, despite my belief that if you're going to eat animals and fish you should really do them the courtesy of a) killing them decently and b) eating the entire creature.  But I'm sure it's very healthy and it does look awfully like a brain.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Still Reading...Michael Palin's 'Diaries'

Still reading Michael Palin's Diaries and although they're a little 'pedestrian' in parts, I've grown accustomed to his voice and I'm going to really miss them when I get to the end.  So, I think I'm going to have to buy the next volume, which I've already spotted on sale on Amazon for 1p or thereabouts.
It's quite odd reading his account of his life, because it seems so normal (the trips to Barbados and the jetting back and for'ard to New York and the multitude of showbiz pals and encounters aside).  Emotionally balanced, I think is what I'm 'groping for'.  When I think of the sketches he was in (Blackmail,  The Spanish Inquisition, for example) he seemed completely off the wall, but in 'real life' he must be totally different - very grounded and quite reserved I think. Nothing much seems to 'throw' him, or at least that's the impression I have.
It's interesting to read about his writing routine - he worked very very hard at it, to an extent that surprised me.  Mind you, it was his living and had been since leaving Oxford.  So he had the motivation and the time, and possibly most importantly, he had the contacts.   To paraphrase - 'he had three things - motivation, time, and contacts.  And success...he had FOUR things, time, motivation, contacts, and success...and a conducive environment...FIVE things....' and so on and so forth.  Not to mention a vast amount of talent.  'SIX things....'  And energy.  'SEVEN...'
Nevertheless, he was incredibly productive.  One thing in particular that made me take note was his attempt (successful) at novel-writing.  'I'm going to set myself a target of 1,000 words a day, and I'm going to get the whole thing done in three months.'  And he did.
I can easily bang out 1,000 words in a day - whether they're any good or not is another question. My main problem is not the word target but the plot - I have not got one.  I'm a rambler.  But, nothing ventured, and I think I might try the thousand words a day thing and see where it takes me. That's on top of any posts I produce here on the blog.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Random Wildlife in the Garden







Back in May we had a toad in our compost bin and robins nesting in our shed.  Haven't seen the toad recently, but I reckon it's still around, maybe deeper into the vegetation due to the heat.  Robins were last seen hopping around the hedge, after fledging from the shed.  Only two out of a clutch of four made it.  We also have a very noisy and social resident colony of house sparrows nesting in our eaves.  Next door have an even noisier pair of swifts - wish we did too.

Whinge of the Week - Sudoku



Geoffrey's in a Right State.
'It's the Whingers Anonymous club meeting tonite and I've no idea what to say.'
'Don't say anything then.  Just sit in a corner eating crisps and say you're having an off nite.'
'It doesn't work like that Tuppy. They're all top-notch intellectual thugs and they'll all turn on me using the combined force of their lethal brain-power unless I come up with a whinge that meets their rigorous standards.  And as if that wasn't bad enough,  even if you DO think of a whinge, if it's not a popular one with the others you get publicly de-badged.  I like my badge Tuppy!  I don't want to get de-badged.  Especially not publicly.'
'How horrible. I wouldn't go at all then.  Just stay at home with me and we'll sit and stare into the fire and eat sausages and drink Madeira until we go unconscious.'
'No Tuppy.  After twenty years of it I'm bored doing that.  I need some mental stimulation and I'm sure Whingers Anonymous is the very thing.  I need to stretch my brain.'
'Suit yourself.'  I yawned and tapped my the embers of my pipe into the fire, and contemplated another bacon sandwich. 'I find doing a Sudoku or trying to work out the number of Rice Krispies in a family-sized pack does the trick in the brain-stretching department, but each to their own.'
I was lying about the Rice Krispies, of course.  And about the Sudoku.  Surely Sudoku is one of the most mind-crunchingly dull inventions ever.....what kind of MANIAC would think up a so-called 'game' that involves adding up numbers in a square until your eyes fall out?  And why is it so popular? And why has Carol Vorderman made even-more-money-than-she's-already-got for herself by writing a book about it - and what kind of losers actually BUY it FFS....
'Geoffrey, I think I might have inadvertently come up with a wh - ....'
But he was still rattling on, pacing the floor and clutching his head. ' It's not all stick though Tuppy,' he raved, 'There's a prize for Whinge of the Week.  Last week it was a hamper.  I want to win the hamper Tuppy.  It would give me a real sense of achievement and that.  I've no idea what to whinge about Tuppy.  I'm perfectly contented. I don't know what to say and I'm afraid they'll all laugh at my confusion and embarrassed silence and then do the de-badging thing.'
'Why on earth are you even going then?'
'For the company Tuppy.  I'm lonely.'
'You've got me, and the neighbours, and the Tupfinder General on the odd occasion.  I'd have thought that was enough.'
'It isn't enough Tuppy.  I want to spread my wings and learn new things.  Meet new people. Maybe even...well...meet someone special...'
That was it.  I stood up briskly and brushed the crumbs off my tartan knee rug (it's one of my five eating days today).
'I'm making another bacon sandwich and then I'm fetching the big syringe Geoffrey. No, no,'  I held up my hand,' I'm afraid you've lost the plot altogether and you'll have to be strapped down and sedated until you see sense.  Or at least until I've finished reading the paper.'

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Interesting piece from the Guardian about an encounter with Graham Chapman - my favourite 'Python'.   http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/jul/01/graham-chapman-monty-python-star-and-me

Dust My Broom - Elmore James

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Diet Food of the Day - Keesh

I was featured in the local newsletter 'The Enterprise' this week as part of their 'health and fitness' promotion.  It wasn't a good thing.  Mainly because there was a photograph of me looking rotund, captioned 'How NOT to do it - One Sheep's Weight-loss Hell'.
I don't think that you'll be surprised to learn that 'The Enterprise'' is one of enterprising couple Dave and Val Nark's latest enterprises.  Or that its vile and clumsy motto is 'Boldly to Go Where No-one Has Gone Before - or at least, Not for a While.'
Val came round to ours far too early this morning with a copy hot off their bio-fuel-powered printer.  More of where precisely the bio-fuel comes from, later.
'There you go Tuppy!  I know we've had our differences in the past but Dave and I are nothing if not emotionally-generous and so we've put you right there on the front page!  I'm sure Geoffrey will be so proud.'
'Yes that's right - thank you V - ' began Geoffrey, before I kicked him smartly behind the knee. 'Ow!'
'Well I'll be off then!  Time waits for no-one and I've a pilates class at ten and I need to be on the door before they arrive so I can get the money up front.  Not to mention I also have yurts to fill, goats to milk, and a post-office to run. Do stop by the post office for a lo-cal goji-berry flapjack - I've got some stale ones on special.'
And off she whisked, power-walking back up the hill to what used to be the bare and empty tourist car-park, and which is now a sprawling mass of eco-yurts, the largest and pointiest of which has been converted into a post-office-cum-eco-minimart.
'Why am I not losing weight Geoffrey? I've had keesh for tea for the past five days,' I said, as I flung 'The Enterprise' into the fire and watched my own face staring back at me before it vanished forever into ash.
'I don't know Tuppy.  Keesh is supposed to be healthy.  Everyone eats it when they're on a diet.  You've also had salad with everything, as well, so what with that and the keesh you should be really slim by now. It's a mystery Tuppy.  I hate to say,  but you might have to consult Dr Wilson.  You could have a glandular problem.'

more later.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Whingers Anonymous Badge... and a bit about the history of the blog

Geoffrey's Whingers Anonymous badge



For anyone who's not read the blog before, these new posts are 'Tuppy and Geoffrey' posts.  Tuppy and Geoffrey are the two original 'Sea Penguin' characters.  They're pictured on the cover of Sea Penguin - Part One.  I wrote about their exploits solidly for about four years, starting in 2008, and Barry Nicol, my artist partner, did the picture for me.  It still hangs on our livingroom wall.  They were quite popular, but I got really fed up due to persistent harassment from some really aggressive people online (I was inexperienced re. the internet at that point), ditched the blog for a while and went off in different directions.  For some reason I seem to have re-discovered their voice, and I'm quite glad, because I had a huge affection for them and losing the blog and my daily writing fun was (almost) like cutting an arm off.
About a million more Tuppy and Geoffrey posts can be found in the five e-books that I have published on Amazon. Here's a link through to my Amazon page.
   

The Whingers Anonymous Club, Badges, & Gel Inserts

'I've got a new badge,' crowed Geoffrey as he flew through the hole in the kitchen wall and landed on his usual perch on the end of the mantlepiece.
'Really,' I replied, staring out of the window in my usual morose manner, while puffing on my electronic pipe and adjusting my belt inwards - yes, INwards - by yet another notch.
'Don't you want to see?' he badgered.
'No.'
'Why not?  It's lovely and shiny.'
'Oh do shut up.  I'm not interested in seeing anything shiny if it isn't baccy or food.'
'I know you'll like it.  It's just up your alley,' he continued doggedly, 'You'll never guess what it's for - you're completely foxed, aren't you?'
'No, I'm not foxed as you put it.  I'm never foxed.  I don't DO foxed,' I said standing up, and flexing my plantar, 'Cattiness isn't in my nature as a general rule, but I've had more than enough of the animal verbs and adverbs.  Crowing,  badgering, doing things doggedly, being completely and utterly foxed and so forth.  And before you say it - I'm not horsing around.   No more am I cowering in a corner, feeling cowed and looking cow-eyed.  Besides, I know precisely what that badge is for because I saw the notice pinned up outside the post office last Monday when I went to collect my gel inserts.'
'What notice?'
'The one about the new Whingers Anonymous Club that meets in the church hall on Tuesday evenings at 7.  It's like the Hellfire Club except there's no dirtiness, there's tea instead of port, and it's open only to whingeing old domino-playing half-wits like your good self.'
'What gel inserts?'
'The ones I got off Ebay for my plantar fasciitis.  Which, might I add, is giving me absolute gyp this afternoon.  Not that you'd care, with your shiny new badge and your new friends at the Whingers Anonymous club and all.'
Geoffrey looked crestfallen, and I immediately felt alarmed. If I didn't apologise pretty swiftly there would be no chance of his making the tea.  'I'm sorry.  I'm just hacked off is all, Geoffrey.  My feet hurt despite my new gel inserts, I hate my new-fangled electronic pipe and I hate being on this five two diet.'
'It was your own idea to go on a so-called health kick.'
'No it wasn't.'
'It was!'
'WASN'T!  And stop looking crestfallen. You're making me feel even worse.  Here am I with an electronic-freaking-pipe, and starving myself for five days and eating rabbit-food on t'other two....'
'I'm not crestfallen.  I'm cowed.  And by the way Tuppy - I haven't liked to mention it before, because you've been in such a toweringly bad mood - but you're doing the five two diet the wrong way round.  You're supposed to eat for five days solidly, then starve for two. You've been doing it wrong. No wonder you're feeling a touch out of sorts.'
I sighed heavily.  Or as heavily as I could manage, given that I was losing more and more of my 'body weight' by the second.  'I'm such an ass.  Have we any sausages?' I asked sheepishly.
'We always have sausages.'
'Good.  Now pass me the opium.'

Next up - Geoffrey stabs himself in the face with the un-safety pin at the back of his badge.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Now Reading my charity shop buys....Michael Palin's 'Diaries', Ted Hughes' 'Letters' & Neil Munro's 'Erchie' (not)

Oh well,  I suppose I'd better write something.

I got three excellent books from the local Cancer Research recently.  Books are the ONLY bargains to be found in charity shops these days.  At least, that's the case in the town where I live.  Their bric a brac is vastly overpriced, considering they get it all for freaking nothing.  I can only think that they are obsessed with not letting anyone nab a bargain to sell on Ebay or wherever.  And their clothes are way too expensive considering their condition.  Bobbly, baggy, and smelling of someone else's acrid perfume (or worse).  Possibly with a grotty old paper hankie still stuffed up a threadbare sleeve.
But they (yes - 'they', because rather sadly I now view charity shop staff as 'the other' - and a very grasping 'other' at that, to be approached with extreme caution, like next door's bipolar Alsatian) have no choice but to sell books cheaply because of the 1p sellers online - hooray!  Suits me fine.
For three pounds I bought a pristine hard-backed copy of Ted Hughes' 'Letters', an equally good Michael Palin 'Diaries 1969-79', and a paperback edition of Neil Munro's 'Erchie, My Droll Friend'. In years past I'd have gone to my local library for new reading material and it would have cost me nothing, of course.  But now, the library stock consists of rubbish, the staff appear uninterested in enabling people to actually read and search for books, and due to council policy it has become a noisy 'community hub' for various groups rather than a quiet haven for book-lovers and seekers of knowledge.  I've had to resort to getting books as cheaply as I can via Amazon, Ebay and the charity shops, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Ted Hughes' 'Letters' is a bit turgid, I have to say.  I only bought the book because it was cheap. Original price on the dust-jacket is thirty quid.  Thirty quid!!  No Way Ho-zay, they're avvin a larf.  I've never been a fan of his poetry and his letters are, for me,  mind-grindingly dull and verging on grim.  Being a top-notch poet sounds unspeakably ghastly.  Luckily,  that's not something that will ever trouble me.  Or indeed many of us 'normal' folk down here in the mud.  However, there are points of interest regarding his personal life, I suppose.
Michael Palin's Diaries are also on the dull side, if I'm honest.  They don't compare with Graham Chapman's A Liar's Autobiography, which I loved.  I really like Michael Palin but he's probably just too much of a nice, decent bloke to write a properly riveting Diary with plenty of gossip and juicy bits.  However,  I'm quite enjoying the part I'm reading at the moment, which covers the period during which they were writing The Life of Brian.  I know the film well and it's interesting to read how they put it together, who wrote what and so forth.  The whole diary actually reminds me a bit of Phil Cornwell and John Sessions' Stella Street, due to the number of celebrities Palin seems to bump into in his local shop, park, pub, etc..  For example,  Harold Pinter in a restaurant,  Elton John crossing the road (Terry Jones nearly runs him over), all three 'Goodies' (frequently, all over the place) and, oh, I forget who else. Lots of people, anyway.  I suppose he does live in 'leafy' Hampstead, which is peppered liberally with 'media types'.  Or so I imagine.
My third buy, the Neil Munro tome, is unbelievably obscure and written in a convoluted, bizarre, almost arcanely so, version of 'Scottish' (not 'Scots', which would have been perfectly fine).  It's a compilation of 'droll' columns written for the Glasgow Herald in nineteen oatcake about affairs of the day and I cannot believe that anyone ever read, never mind enjoyed, them.
I'm horribly fascinated by their period awfulness and so I'll write another blog post about them once I've read around them a bit more.  It'll likely be Very Short.