Sunday, 22 April 2018

Back to Life

A very busy week has seen me not make great inroads into reorganising/refrugalising my life, but a few baby steps, nonetheless.

For a start, I've managed to make my lunch every day, saving probably around a tenner. Before had seen me getting dropped at the station, grabbing something reduced price from M&S for the next day (because I knew I would be too tired to bother), and hoping I could get through to a mini cab company for the journey home, as black cabs are an arm and a leg.

Good news, this week I am in shoes! My physiotherapist gave me the all clear to ditch the boot -- if I could -- about ten days ago, but I couldn't get into anything for a few days so had to keep the boot on to go to work. My foot is less swollen now, but still a bit bigger, and it's a bit less pronounced now, but my ankle is like the hip on a rose at the end of summer. Lace up pumps are the only shoes I can wear. I don't think I'll be able to war my Mary Janes or my Doc Marten boots for a while.

This week, I have managed to walk to the station on 3 out of 5 days, and get lifts the rest of the time. Trouble with getting lifts though, is I am susceptible to agreeing to not drive home straightaway, and that has seen us drive by a beer garden to appreciate the heatwave and get takeaway on the way home. Uh oh! My peak steps on Saturday were 10.9k, but that was a mistake doing that much as I was in agony after. I am settling down from the usual night pains, but I felt sore after yesterday's home physio session too, and it's making me wary of moving.

Still, every day, more control, but I still can't do everything I want/need to do and it's frustrating. I was worried about my allotment, but my friends have promised to come help in a couple of weeks, which is awesome! I am so happy knowing I'm not going to lose it.

Broken ankles are the enemy of frugalling! I saw 20p on the floor yesterday and I couldn't sodding pick it up!

Okay, enough moaning, here are the fab things from my week:

I went to see my friends' play Madam Bovary: a madcap tragedy at the Playhouse Theatre. It was excellent! Lou Chawner played Charles Bovary and the salesman. He broke his ankle too a few weeks ago (plagiarist!), so had to play with some retro under-elbow crutches, but even though this was a very physical production he was awesome in it. Nice one, Lou! Brilliantly cast as the lead was Julia Langley, who I told "gave good face" -- she does! She was excellent in The Rover too. I think she's a comic natural. My friends did brilliantly with the fantastic bed and mirrors-centred set design, puppets, staging, everything. Even ribbons were used with skill. Lovely, lovely night!

I also met up with my writers group, and got to finish signing copies of my antholgy for future sale and pick up my contributor copies. This is the happy face of a woman who loves practicing her autograph!

Might blog again very soon, about something that's been in the news loads lately. TBC!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Rest of Follycon

A week after coming back from Eastercon, my ambition to recount the weekend in lots of detail has failed as I've had to do other things. Plus, as I have been walking a lot more, I also need a lot of recovery time. My Fitbit has been recording from 3-5K, but as I ventured out today, I noticed it hasn't always been recording properly. All I know is, I ache.

Anyway, I should at least mention the highlights from last week, and apologies, it's not really the usual stuff you might read here.

On Friday, I launched a book! My book!

Specifically my latest anthology: The Best of British Science Fiction 2017.

This was immense. Mine wasn't the only book being launched, and I know pretty well that I wasn't the draw in a room with some pretty awesome authors, but it was such a buzz to see the launch room pack out. People got turned away because the room was so full!

And on Saturday, Chad Dixon took this photo of me controlling the presentation slides for the BSFA Awards. Woot, yes that's my wine!
I had a panel on Sunday to talk about the BSFA being 60 this year. I was moderating, accompanied by previous chairs Kev McVeigh and Joseph Nicholas, BSFA Review editor Susan Oke and previous award winner Jaine Fenn. It was quite a tough panel to be on with lots of strong opinions in the room, but very interesting. I had more wine for that one.

I had a great time in between those things, having long chats in the bar with my friends, or in the dealers room where I was on the BSFA desk. Access was a bit of an issue in the Majestic. When I felt up to it I coped with the stairs to the dealers room, but in the mornings I just couldn't, so a man called Stan would whizz me round to the step-free entrance by the art show on a golf buggy. He was a demon driver and then some!

We normally save up for the year and make conventions our holiday, though they are also quite work-filled things too, but I usually pride myself on being super-prepared. Sometimes these things cause you to be trapped in a very expensive location, so we have learned to take supplies with us for the lean times between panels. We also try to make the most of where we are. This year, with my broken ankle, we found ourselves in a lovely place that we couldn't take advantage of so much, and I did not feel prepared either. But I still had a great time.

Normal bloggery will resume again soon.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Follycon Gone!

Part one: Thursday.

Having changed the purple plaster for an awesome space boot last week, I was ready to go to a science fiction convention in Harrogate.

But first, a stop in Yardley Hastings for a celebratory cake.

As gleeful as I was to get a boot that looks like part of Marvin the Paranoid Android, the smile somewhat faded when I realised walking is now double hard and I miss my scooter.

The journey to Harrogate on Thursday was a good deal longer than it should have been, but I was delighted to find myself travelling on the A1 - lead tarmac of the film of the same name, A1: The Long Road to Edinburgh a film by newbie comedian Mark Row about his first year in comedy and which I got invited to see at a screening last week as a guest of Nig Lovell, who was also in it. Only to discover I was also in the film! Well, the sound of my cackling voice was (at a gig in Milton Keynes). We listened to a short story collection audiobook from the library on the way on time travel.

Unfortunately, because time travel was working incorrectly for us, we ended up missing a table booked for a hotel, and instead ate at our hotel - the beautiful Crown! This was a hotel at which Lord Byron once stayed in 1806, and they are very proud of this and have the poem he wrote then on the wall, which you can read on the way in to breakfast.

To a Beautiful Quaker.
Sweet girl! though only once we met,
That meeting I shall ne'er forget;
And though we ne'er may meet again,
Remembrance will thy form retain.
I would not say, "I love," but still
My senses struggle with my will:
In vain, to drive thee from my breast,
My thoughts are more and more represt;
In vain I check the rising sighs,
Another to the last replies:
Perhaps this is not love, but yet
Our meeting I can ne'er forget.

What though we never silence broke,
Our eyes a sweeter language spoke.
The tongue in flattering falsehood deals,
And tells a tale it never feels;
Deceit the guilty lips impart,
And hush the mandates of the heart;
But soul's interpreters, the eyes,
Spurn such restraint and scorn disguise.
As thus our glances oft conversed,
And all our bosoms felt, rehearsed,
No spirit, from within, reproved us,
Say rather, "'twas the spirit moved us."
Though what they utter'd I repress,
Yet I conceive thou'lt partly guess;
For as on thee my memory ponders,
Perchance to me thine also wanders.
This for myself, at least, I'll say,
Thy form appears through night, through day:
Awake, with it my fancy teems;
In sleep, it smiles in fleeting dreams;
The vision charms the hours away,
And bids me curse Aurora's ray
For breaking slumbers of delight
Which make me wish for endless night:
Since, oh! whate'er my future fate,
Shall joy or woe my steps await,
Tempted by love, by storms beset,
Thine image I can ne'er forget.

Alas! again no more we meet,
No more former looks repeat;
Then let me breathe this parting prayer,
The dictate of my bosom's care:
"May heaven so guard my lovely quaker,
That anguish never can o'ertake her;
That peace and virtue ne'er forsake her,
But bliss be aye her heart's partaker!
Oh, may the happy mortal, fated
To be by dearest ties related,
For her each hour new joys discover,
And lose the husband in the lover!
May that fair bosom never know
What 't is to feel the restless woe
Which stings the soul with vain regret,
Of him who never can forget!"

In other words: "I quite fancy you!" Did they or didn't they? Probably. He was only eighteen but apparently he'd already had a collection of poetry burned for being too saucy.

We had chosen to stay at the Crown because it was a cheaper hotel than the convention hotel - the Majestic - and only a five minute walk away. Only!! Well, after walking there on the first night, it became clear I would need to use a lot of taxis. Thankfully, taxis in Harrogate were fairly cheap.

And the food was amazing at the Crown. I had macaroni cheese with Whitby crab (oh my life - it so works!) and OH the steak and ale pudding. Then we went to the Majestic to begin locating friends. We found Ian Watson and Cristina Macia in the bar with Roberto Quaglia, and were joined by fellow NSFWG member Andy West, Dave Lally, Neil Williamson, and were then joined by friends Jess and Kris, who had enjoyed the pleasures of the A1 for even longer than we had. Finally we met Ian Whates and Helen, whose company we had missed at dinner. But it was a fairly early night for all of us before the con proper the next morning. And the memory fuzzes already... the bar was busy, we were tired, and so I am now...

To be continued...