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‘Add New Post’
This blog / website / whatever it is called now, wants me to add a new post every time I come here. If I do make the effort to add a new post it normally means I’ve got something specific to write about. Whether it’s one of my feeble attempts to market my books and/or art or whether it’s one of those rare occasions when I get wound up enough about some topic, usually political, or vegan-related, to feel a need to make some comment about it.
There is a third reason I add new posts, and that is the most important reason – it’s when I share some of my creative work, like a short story, or a poem, or some rant about parallel universes and/or the nature of reality.
But sometimes there are gaps when I have nothing specific to say, and I don’t feel particularly inclined to share some creative work, yet I still feel the urge to add a new post.
This post is a result of one of those gaps, there is no reason for this post other than to fill it (the gap).
Yet . . .
I do have something to say, I’m sure I do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is an extract from one of my books.
And now it’s the morning of March 15th 2016. One of the things that’s prompted this bit of live writing is my desire to reach 100,000 words. As I type I can see the word-count at the bottom of the screen and it says, hang on, I’ve got to catch it unaware because of course it will increase as soon as I type in the number: The number of words that are in this book so far is 98,951 (including the number 98,951), but of course it’s more already – it’s relentless, nothing really stops, everything changes.
It’s a bit like that with life – as soon as you think you’ve got a handle on it, the second you think you’ve got it sussed – it changes, it becomes something else, that’s one of the consequences of getting older, you lose the certainty of youth, and when I say youth I don’t mean childhood, I mean adulthood, from your early twenties or whenever it is you feel as if you’ve grown up at last, all the way through to old age in your sixties or whenever it is you feel as if you’re old.
NOTE: This blog post is meant primarily as a personal record of something I did and the context in which I did it. It’s no more than that.
In the late sixties, when I was a teenager I used to sit in cafés and watch people. I don’t mean in a creepy way, I was just a casual observer. At seventeen I spent some time based in Paddington and worked as a Lugger – a Roadie’s assistant, carrying speakers and amps in through the back entrances,up the steep stairs, and along the narrow passages of nightclubs all over the UK. I grafted for several bands including Jon Hiseman’s Coliseum and Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. I shared a flat with other roadies who between them worked for some of the biggest names of that period.
An extract from my book To Me
I’m told I ate the dog’s biscuits and drank a lot of water. I dunked my blond locks in a bucket of lime and nearly died of pneumonia at a few weeks old. The pneumonia and the bucket of lime are unconnected, at least in the normal linear way we deal with time.
The truth is that after nearly sixty years of being me, (and being me involves a lot of thinking about these things) I still know nothing about myself. I am here – that’s all I know. I accept that here may not be ‘real’. I accept that reality is the biggest myth.
REALITY IS THE BIGGEST MYTH
“We are all in touch with everything at all times. There is no separation in reality. This life is an illusion created by a random collection of sub-atomic particles and no doubt sub-sub atomic particles. Because we are conscious we have to make sense of it so we make up stories.”
I’m sure the story of me will all come out in some way or other at some time or other. Here on the road this is a signpost or a post or just a sign. So the point is that if I was to represent the sun with a full stop . like that, then there are stars out there that are the size of this page – this room even, and we all know that the earth is tiny compared to the sun and we are tiny compared to the earth and if I could look into my fingernail or any other material thing I would see that it is composed of sub-atomic particles which really don’t exist and I can write my own story but even then you could say it is already written because there once was nothing then there was some sort of bang or expansion that emanated from some point in the middle of that nothing, nowhere, and the force that propelled that and created those stars the size of a hundred million Earths also created me and I am just a consciousness on some sort of trajectory through time and space and all I’m really doing is observing as I zoom past and I don’t have any choices except perhaps which dot to focus on.
To Me is the title of my next book. It’s been written specifically for myself and it is dedicated To Me, but I don’t mind if others read it.
I think everyone should have their own ‘To Me’ book. Luckily I have the experience and skills to publish my own.
Using Print on Demand it doesn’t really cost anything but time plus the cost of any printed copies, and you can buy just one copy if you like.
I’m working on the final edit, it looks like it will end up being about 103,000 words and 310 pages long in an 8.5″ x 5.5″ format.
Here’s a sneak peek of the cover:
- Character A: Life is temporal.
- Character B: Uh!
- Character A: You know, it exists in time.
- Character B: Yeah? What’s your point?
- Character A: Your life, my life, whoever’s life, has a very limited existence. Against the background of eternity it is infinitesimally small. It’s not worth getting so worked up about.
- Character B: Who’s getting worked up?
- Character A: Well – I am I suppose.
- Character B: Yeah – that’s your problem. Do you fancy a cuppa?
- Character A: Why not.
A snippet from some work-in-progress on my autobiographical-novel This is it
‘No. It’s. Not.’
‘Hah!’ Samantha stood up. ‘Gotta go,’ she said, leaning down and puckering her heavily-lipsticked lips.
Benedict tilted his head upwards and reciprocated with the puckered lips.
Their puckered lips met.
‘Mwah,’ they said in unison. Continue reading
This is a piece of what I call ‘Live Writing’
It was typed directly into a Word document on Wednesday November 4th 2015 at 9:45 am. The document is laid out exactly as it will appear in the final book.
The book is called ‘This is it’ and it’s a kind of fantasy/autobiography type thing. It’s just something I’m working on as a side project – but it’s already grown to around 92,000 words.
I’ll probably regret it but this piece is completely unedited. Continue reading
I recently wrote a little piece about an event I was due to perform in. You can read it here: The Suchlike Zen.
Here is what happened next.
Disclaimer: The following piece was written by a different version of me from a parallel universe therefore the views expressed are not necessarily mine. It’s also a bit long, and a bit of a head-fuck, even for me.
‘Hello! I’m Derec – sort of. The thing is, I’m not from round here, and to tell the truth I’m a bit lost, and when I say lost, I mean properly lost, lost in space and time.
You see – I’ve got this theory that, hmm . . . hang on, let’s try to keep it simple. OK, let’s just say that – and remember, it’s only a theory – well, not even a theory really, in the scientific sense, it’s just an idea really, a smidgeon of a thought about the nature of reality – you know, what it’s all about, I mean, I’m not going to pretend I know the answers, any answers to anything, but, and I think you have to show me some respect as a fellow living, breathing creature of this universe, or any other universe come to that.
And that’s the point – Any. Other. Universe. That’s what I mean, there are, according to many respected scientific thinkers, many universes, in fact, according to some, there are an infinite number of parallel universes.
The Suchlike Zen
On Sunday February 9th, 2016, I will be appearing on stage in the theatre at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. This is a very weird and unusual thing for me to do; it’s so unusual that apart from a couple of best-forgotten skirmishes I’ve never really done it before. One of the reasons it’s weird is because, as of now (January 29th), I have no idea what I’m going to do on that stage – well, I do have some sketchy ideas, but I don’t know if what I end up doing will have any resemblance to what I’m thinking of doing now.
For example, I have written 7 or 8 sides in an A4 notebook that may or may not be the first draft of the story I will tell on that stage. Thing is, It’s not really a story, it’s more of a ramble about parallel universes and quantum mechanics, the main idea being that I am not me but I have somehow got my consciousness mixed up with, another, almost identical, version of me who exists in an almost identical parallel universe.
Now, I think that the opportunity for me to appear on that stage and have complete freedom to do or say whatever I like for 10 minutes is rare enough to warrant me developing something, an act if you like, that is worthy of such an opportunity. Trouble is I don’t think my quantum ramble is good enough and I can’t think of anything else clever enough so I’ll probably end up reading poems or passages from my books.
Unless . . .
Watch this space.
EDIT: The follow up to this post can be found here: The Zen. The Zen. The Zen.
One of the projects I’m working on has the physical attributes of a book. It looks like a book and it reads like a book (or will do when it’s finished). In its present state it contains about 80,000 words all typed up in the same Word document. The content is snippets from diaries, journals, and scraps of paper going back to when I started writing such things half a century ago when I was twelve or thirteen.years old.
I’ve got a few more bits to type up – say a couple of thousand words. When that chore is complete the real work will begin and I reckon it will take about a year. The idea is to then superimpose a story over these seemingly random unconnected scribblings, so the end result will be a kind of meta-fiction-autobiography-fantasy type of thing. So far it looks like there’s a Magic Elf and a thirteen-year-old Alien girl involved in the plot. Continue reading
Besides the work on other people’s books I do as a publisher I am working on at least three of four of my own.
The second and third books in the DI Frank Lee trilogy – Beats and Bones – the first book Bums has already been published. These are two full-length novels.
The second edition of my poetry collection – The Words in Me, though I may rename it.
This is it – is a full length novel-cum-autobiography. The title and content may change
So this is something I wrote about This is it just now
Friday October 30th 2015
For the blog
As well as all the other stuff I’m working on at the moment I’m writing an ‘experimental novel’. Its working title is ‘This is it’. It’s not easy to explain without sounding like an apologist for Tracey Emin’s Bed, but that is what it is – the Tracey Emin’s Bed of literature – at least that’s the sort of thing is might look like to the casual reader (which is what Tracey Emin’s bed looks like to the casual observer – or I may be wrong and Tracey Emin’s bed might actually be rubbish as may the book I’m working on.).
The point is, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of my book because I’m writing it only to myself – my future self in fact. So I make the rules and revise them or break them as I please. So, if you were really nasty and / or cynical you could say it’s a wanky book, created only to please myself.
The process by which I am writing (or constructing) the book might be of interest though.
So far I have compiled a total of almost 45,000 words. Some of it is new writing, some of it is copied from old documents in the depths of my hard drive and some of it is typed in from the many dozens of notebooks and thousands of loose papers usually lurking in cardboard in my attic, or more accurately, because I’m working on them, they are now dominating the dining room.
There is so much material in my personal archives that I am having to be very selective in choosing which pieces to include in the new book. This is a good thing because most of the material is so unpolished as to be unrecognisable as writing in the first place – still I hang on to it because I know that underneath the patina are gems waiting to be revealed – whether I will ever have the time to hack away at them is another matter.
The book is a novel, and it is also an autobiography. Obviously it can’t be a full autobiography because how can you get a whole lifetime into a book, or even a library. As a novel it is hard to pin down to any genre but let’s say it has elements of fantasy, magic-realism, science-fiction, crime, suspense, literary, historical, speculative (whatever that is) and I can’t be bothered to carry on searching for words to describe stories.
Let’s put it this way – it is definitely a story, it is definitely fiction, and it is definitely true.
And another thing – this piece is being written for a blog post, but I’m also going to put it in the book.
After a slightly stimulating chat with a mate today regarding the nature of reality that incorporated such things as quantum foam, event horizons, and Zeno’s paradoxes, I realised that every moment is unique. Ha! So what eh! Of course every moment is unique, I mean, in one moment my thumb is hovering above the space bar on the keyboard I’m using and in the next the same thumb is touching the same space bar. And, if you consider a moment to include every other event that is occurring at that exact point in time then it becomes even more unique (if there is such a thing as a sliding scale of uniqueness).
So, between one moment and the next, countless molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles have moved in some way, in fact it’s probable that every single particle that exists in all the infinity of the universe has moved, because nothing is actually static, nothing stays the same, everything changes, all the time.
The friend who I was talking to – over a cup of tea in the Chapter Arts Centre as it happens, later emailed me a link to a wikipedia article about Zeno’s paradoxes, if you want to find out more here it is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno’s_paradoxes
I have read it and will go back to it and I promise I’m not being lazy but I am not a scientific writer – I don’t really care about science – and probably don’t believe in it anyway. Science is just a feeble attempt to make sense of something that is beyond making sense of – the something that exists before science and will exist when science fades, as all things do. No matter how far out science goes, how deep it penetrates, how far back in time, or forward in time, there is always something more, something that science cannot explain.
Also philosophy – which is a sort of science in that it tries to prove something using logic and, arguably, evidence. Yes, also philosophy is merely a wisp on the breeze of eternity.
So, if science and philosophy fail me what is left?
No, it’s not religion.
I was trying to get to a point, so let me see if I can just jump to it without all the bother of following a structured logical path.
OK, this is it. You are a different person than you were a moment ago, the universe you are in now is a different universe than the one you were in a moment ago. Every moment is another you, another universe.
I would go on but I am tired and no one is listening, not in this universe anyway!
It’s all a bit random and it could have all come together in endless different ways, but this is the reality we have to deal with. According to the latest quantum thinking there are multiple versions of the universe and they all exist in parallel. I find this difficult to understand, or to get my head round, as they say. Maybe that’s because my head isn’t the right tool to do the job of understanding, maybe it’s too small – after all, even just in physical terms, my head takes the space of a small watermelon.
Comparatively, a melon-sized head is infinitely small in an infinite universe, even our dear Mother Earth is a tiny smudge in the night sky when viewed from Venus and in the context of the galaxy our precious planet is a grain of sand that’s slipped between the pebbles on Brighton beach – There are up to 400 billion stars in our little galaxy – The Milky Way; and and there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe – and that’s just the observable universe and that’s just one of countless parallel universes.
The numbers dissolve into mulch and become meaningless, but let’s just say that in the grand scheme of things a single person is beyond insignificance. But I know, yes, I know, that one single person is also the most significant thing there is or was or ever will be, because in the end, without that person, without that consciousness to experience it, those billions of galaxies and gadzillions of stars might as well not be there. They’d be unseeable and unknowable and unknown forever.
Doesn’t mean we’ll ever get our heads round it though. I mean, think about it. If we could understand the multiverse with something the size of a melon then there’d be something very wrong with it (them).
So, how does it all work then?
Maybe I’ll come back to that one.
In the meantime:
It’s only 9 am. As usual I have Radio 4 on in the background. I do sometimes listen to Radio Wales or Radio 6, and occasionally Radio 3, but more often than not Radio 4 is my companion during the day and has been for decades. I’m just wondering what that’s done and is still doing to my take on how it all works.
“You’ve got to fight for every little thing you want to achieve.” Words of wisdom from Rebecca Adlington, Olympic swimmer, who is the guest on this morning’s Desert Island Discs. But, is that true or is it just a part of the world view we’re expected to stick to and which is propagated on mainstream media such as BBC Radio 4. What does a lifetime of absorbing Jenny Murray’s drone and Melvyn Bragg’s whine do to your mind?
Who the fuck am I? What would I be like if I had donated my brain to Radio Hip-Hop instead? Would there be any difference anyway, since both types of media delivery are based on the idea that we must share a common vista. What if you didn’t engage in all that? One of my Facebook friends has just posted a link to a news story about a man who became a hermit for 27 years. The headline is: ‘What Happens to Your Identity When You Don’t Speak to Anyone for 27 Years?”
The hermit article goes on to say: ‘Anyone who reveals what he’s learned, Chris told me, is not by his definition a true hermit.’
Maybe I’ll come back to that too.
God, that Rebecca Adlington is full of herself isn’t she? You’re just a swimmer mate, you’re not going to bring world peace or anything. OK, she’s a success, I get it, she’s worked hard for what she’s achieved, she deserves it – yeah yeah OK. And she is quite young I suppose so perhaps her full-of-herself-ness is forgiveable.
Do I sound bitter? I’m not really, I understand that life and everyone, every creature even, who possesses it, is as complicated as the aforementioned multiverses, but that doesn’t mean I buy into the middle-class, middle-of-the-road, middle brow stew that the BBC and particularly Radio 4, has been pumping into my brain since I crawled from the swamp of adolescence.
I will not be brainwashed.
Resist . . .
Resist . . .
Resist . . . . . .
Mark Steel is on the radio in Paisley doing his usual low-level piss-taking routine, tickling the locals with his research and turning trivial facts into jokes. To be fair, he’s quite entertaining and informative, but I’m not sure if it’s very funny. News on soon, then The Archers. I’ll probably leave the radio on – it provides some background company while working on my own even if I don’t actually pay any attention to what’s coming out of the speaker.
At some point in the next few hours I will be walking to town (i.e. the centre of Cardiff) to meet my wife, who is out after work, celebrating a colleague’s retirement.
I thought I could write a piece about expectations versus actualities – in this case, writing down what I expect to happen on the hour plus walk to town and back and then, after the event, writing down what actually happened.
But, I can’t imagine what will happen on that walk, partly because I just can’t – you know, it’s just a blank when I try to sift through the possibilities – there’s nothing there. The other reason I can’t imagine what will happen is because I don’t want to imagine it. Part of me had the idea to speculate and write it down, but a stronger part of me simply doesn’t want to know.
I wonder if that’s the deal we’ve made with life – you know, just get on with it, take things as they come, don’t think too much?
I heard on the aforementioned Radio 4 earlier that the accent a person speaks with has absolutely no correlation with how intelligent they are. So, just because you speak with a posh accent doesn’t mean you’re clever and/or just because you sound like a daft sheep-shagger doesn’t mean you’re thick.
Fair enough, at first glance. But if you think about it, have you ever heard a bloke who speaks with received pronunciation asking for a couple of quid to clean your windows? Or have you ever seen a sheep-shagger collecting an Olivier award?
The conclusion, for me at least, is that being successful, at least in monetary and mainstream terms is not a measure of how clever you are. You can be stupid, sound posh, and be successful or you can be intelligent, sound crass, and be poor.
It doesn’t really mean anything, all this, you know. It’s just words, it’s an attempt to connect, to share some common vision – to prove that we’re not alone.
Anyway – The Archers has just finished and some review programme has just come on where some middle-class reviewer is talking about a Norwegian Crime Thriller which of course ‘is not just a Crime Thriller’.
It (and this) is getting boring.
Still sitting here, Radio 4 still on, now it’s an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. Lots of cleverly constructed dialogue but nothing new of course – it’s a story that’s been told a million times before and in a thousand different ways. Good old Cyrano has provided overpaid employment for many hundreds of scriptwriters, actors and directors.
Maybe that’s the answer, you can be too clever for your own good. Just find something that is considered ‘good’ by the arbiters of culture, and copy it, being careful to add a little twist so you can claim it’s your own work. Maybe that’s the real intelligent thing to do – who needs original thought and innovation?
Here’s a sketch of what’s supposed to be a beggar.
Despite the speech bubble, the thing in his right hand is a crutch, not a gun.
Anyway – it’s just a doodle related to the cover of my next novel – ‘Bums’. There’s more about that elsewhere.
I’ve been told there’s no such thing as ‘seagulls’ – they’re just ‘gulls’ apparently, but a lifetime of conditioning will not allow me to accept that, And while we’re on the subject of the nomenclature of birds, since when did some birds of prey become known as ‘raptors’? Anyway, I don’t really care about all that, but we were stalked by seagulls just now, on the way back from town. We bought some chips on the way up the main road and ate them as we walked home. A seagull circled above our heads, then another, then another,and so on, until there were at least seven of them; and as they circled they descended in slow spirals.
We covered the chips up and they dispersed, looking for another incorrectly filled recycling bag to shred no doubt. I thought about taking a photo but by the time I got my phone camera ready they’d gone over the rooftops. I took a picture anyway – of a seagull-less sky.
Then I saw half a bag of discarded potatoes on the pavement. I guess the seagulls weren’t interested in them because they weren’t cooked.
Ah yes – it was a nice walk to town and back – a lovely evening.
Branwen is an A* pupil who has been offered university places at both Oxford and Cambridge. She’s agonised for days about which one to choose. She’s weighed up all the pros and cons and it’s pretty much 50-50.
She decides to flip a coin. If it comes up heads she will choose Oxford; if it’s tails Cambridge will have the privilege of her attendance.
In a parallel universe a Branwen who is identical in every respect down to the last sub-atomic particle has, of course, exactly the same dilemma, and does, of course, exactly the same thing.
This scenario is not science fiction but is based on theories that are taken very seriously by very serious scientists
The Branwens in both universes flip their respective coins. Remember, they are exactly the same. Every thought, every emotion, every breath is exactly the same for each of them. Since there is not a sub-atomic particle of difference between them they are, in effect, exactly the same person.
The coin spins in the air and clatters to the floor of the little coffee shop where Branwen’s working for the summer holidays. She leans down to look more closely at the coin, supporting the small of her back, it’s still sore after the fall from her bike yesterday.
The coin lands heads side up in one universe and tails side up in the other. Now we have two versions of Branwen. Branwen A heads to Oxford while Branwen B takes up residence in Cambridge.
Branwen B loves Cambridge and settles in straight away. In her third year she meets Joseph, a politics student. They fall in love and get married. Joseph wants to devote himself to a political career. Branwen gives him the emotional and financial support he needs to do it.
Ten years later Joseph becomes a Member of Parliament and over the next twenty years ascends the political ladder until he becomes Prime Minister.
Branwen A can’t settle down in Oxford and drinks too much alcohol for her own good. She skips lectures, neglects her coursework and misses exams. In her third year she is asked to leave.
Branwen A goes back to her home town suffering from a breakdown and lives the rest of her life dependent on medication and benefits. Joseph meanwhile, loses interest in politics and becomes a corporate lawyer.
Now, along the way both Branwens make thousands of choices, for example, whether to get a bus to the market or cycle, or whether to wear the red or the green coat. You could say that every time Branwen makes a decision a parallel universe version of Branwen makes a different decision.
This leads me to conclude that if you’re sitting there with your head in your hands lamenting that you should have gone to Cambridge instead of Oxford, or you should have got the bus that day you cycled to the market and got flattened by that idiot in the taxi, then you should stop fretting. In a parallel universe you did go to Cambridge and your husband’s the Prime minister. (For the sake of balance, in yet another one you are the Emperor of the Galaxy.)
Note: I may come back to this. Actually, in another universe I do come back to this and write the most brilliant philosophical piece that leads to the Nobel Prize and world peace, while you win a hundred million on the lottery.
Sorry it’s not this one.