Friday, 23 September 2011

Why Can't Real Life Be Like Casualty?

Long title for a blog, but I didn’t know what else to call it.

Picture the scene. Someone collapses in the arms of her husband right outside the doors of a large (and famous) hospital. A nurse who just happens to be passing rushes to their aid, yelling for help. Before she even reaches them, a porter is hurtling out of the doors with a trolley, doctors are stringing their stethoscopes round their necks and hurrying to help.

“Don’t worry, love,” a lovely, kind nurse says. The unfortunate person is hurried into the hospital and is taken care of. Another nurse steps in to comfort the distressed husband.

Oh, if only.

Yesterday my husband was waiting outside this large, famous hospital when he saw an elderly man pressing an elderly lady up against the wall. He went over to see if he could help and saw the woman’s eyes were rolling back. “Please get help,” the man with her said. “She’s fainted.”

So he rushed into the hospital and the first people he saw were two porters. “Can you help, please,” he said. “A lady has collapsed outside.”

Sharp intake of breath. “Sorry, mate. Not our job. See the person on the desk.” Can you imagine Big Mac saying that?

So he went to the desk. “No, sorry, I can’t help you. You’ll have to go to A & E.”

So off he went to A & E, all the time aware that the poor man outside was trying to hold his wife up.

“You’ll have to wait till I’ve finished my phone call,” the person on the desk said.

“But someone has collapsed.”

Shrug. He said it wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been rushed off their feet, but there were plenty of staff standing round doing nothing and they just looked the other way. Nice.

Eventually, one of the porters turned up and said it was being sorted. When my beloved went back outside, a nurse was walking out to see what was happening. The lady was now on the ground unconscious. I’m sure they took care of her, I hope they did. But why wait so long?

“I should have just helped him get her to a bench,” Beloved said. “I didn’t think it would take so long to get help.”

Maybe he should just have run into the hospital screaming and shouting until someone did something. That might have worked.

It seems to me that the people who are pushy and make the most noise are the ones who get on. Those who quietly get on with it and keep their heads down go unnoticed.

At school, the naughty kids are rewarded with stars and when they get enough stars they get a prize. What do the good kids get? The ones that don’t go round thumping people or disrupting the classroom or cheeking the teacher or swearing? They get nothing. Does that sound right to you?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

NAWG Open Writing Competition

For those who like entering competitions, here’s a good one.

The National Association of Writers’ Groups are holding their first open short story competition. The competition is open to non members and the entry fee is £5.

And if you would like a short critique of your story from judge and successful short story writer, Linda Lewis, this will only be an extra £3.

Prizes are 1st £250, 2nd £100 and 3rd £50. Entries should be between 500 and 2000 words and the all important closing date is October 31st.

Details and entry form can be found here.

What a Week!

I have had a terrible week. I have been half drowned, stabbed, insulted, you name it. You don’t know the half of it, but you will dear friends, you will.

On Monday Herself ran a bath. Tilly, who as you know is mad, woke up and rushed off to have her bath. Don’t do it, I said, but too late, she was up to her armpits in suds with a blissful look on her face. I snuck outside and hid behind the washing line. I’ve no idea how they found me. I was as still as a statue out there.

I was scrubbed to within an inch of my tail. The indignity of it. Tilly went straight back to bed after and left a damp patch. Now you’re for it I said, but all Herself did was say, Aww isn’t she sweet, she's gone back to bed, look - and took a photo of her!

On Wednesday I heard her say we were off to the v-e-t. She thinks I can’t spell, but I can. Trouble is, when we left home I’d forgotten about the v-e-t and thought we were going for a ride in the car so I dragged her out of the door and leapt onto the back seat.

We passed the fields, we passed the woods and yet still my hopeful heart insisted we were going on an adventure. I ignored the voice of doom – Tilly’s. You won’t be laughing when you’ve got a thermometer stuck up your nether regions she said.

I did my serious face – like this – to show I didn’t believe her.

No one was more surprised than me when we arrived at the v-e-t. Herself weighed Tilly who stood so still on the scales it was easy. She practically got a round of applause. Huh. When it was my turn I fidgeted a bit and it took a while. I’ve no idea what it means, but she said, He’s quite skinny under all that wool. Wool? I don’t have wool. You wouldn’t believe the insults I have to put up with. After my bath she said I looked like a Highland Cow.

You think that’s bad? Well. We then went into the surgery and saw Tom, who I like. I like all the v-e-ts really. It isn’t their fault that they are what they are.

He said he’d check Tilly out first. He spent ages looking in her eyes. I hid under a chair. He looked at me and said I would have to look after my sister now she can’t see. Me? How can I look after her when I can’t look after myself? I’ll do my best I muttered. Then – and you won’t believe this folks – he said they ought to get me a bell for my collar so that Tilly will know where I am. A bell? What am I? A cat?

He said the lump on her chest that he’d tested a couple of years ago felt different and that he’d like to do another test. You should have seen her. Talk about panic! I can’t see you fool, she squeaked when I told her to take it like a dog, I don’t know what’s happening to me.

He got all these slides out ready, then stuck a needle in Tilly’s lump. When he drew off the fluid he actually laughed. Well that’s a relief, he said, we won’t need to send it off for testing. It hasn’t changed. Still a cyst.

So she’s got a cyst, so what? I’ve got Pancreatic Insufficiency, but you don’t hear me harping on about it. I scrunched even further under the chair. Herself asked Tom if he could snip a couple of Tilly’s toenails. Well, I didn’t realise we were coming here for a manicure I thought! He started snipping and I was nearly maimed by bits of flying claw. That’s when I decided to try to escape through the door. You don’t want to go through there, Herself laughed, that’s not the way out! (Mockery you see, adding insult to injury).

It got worse. He examined Tilly all over, then he gave her a booster vaccination. All this took about 25 minutes. That’s 25 minutes of running- round-a-field time I’ll never get back.

Your turn, Indy, Tom said. Me? No, I said. You’ve got it all wrong. I’m only here as moral support for Tilly. I don’t… Too late, I was up on the table. I did what I always do in such situations and went boneless. I draped my head over Herself’s shoulder, leant against her and prepared for whatever pain and indignity was to come.

He felt me all over and do you know what he kept calling me? A fatty lump! Just a fatty lump, he kept saying and every time he said it, he was fiddling about with one of my mysterious bumps.

By that time all I needed was for Rolf do-you-know-what-it-is-yet Harris to come in with a film crew, then I’d have known I was doomed.

You’re a handsome fellow, Tom said. I’ve no idea who he was talking to. I was too busy looking for Rolf.

Next thing he stuck a needle in me and said I could go. What? But what about my manicure? What about my eyes? I’d only been on his table for a few minutes. Why did Tilly get all the attention? All I got was a jab.

Would they like a biscuit, Tom asked? Do bears do that thing that bears do in the woods? This was more like it! I remembered why I didn't mind seeing the v-e-t after all.

He gave Tilly hers and had to poke it right in her mouth (she can find half a chip in the bottom of the bin, but put food in front of her and she’s got no idea), then he offered one to me, but I was in such a state of terror, I barely managed to take it from him by the skin of my lips. He looked at me and said, Are you sure you’re a spaniel, Indy?

When we left, Tilly didn’t do her usual screaming thing. She walked sedately to the door and then tried to walk through the panel at the side. She doesn’t scream at cats when we’re out any more and she doesn’t bark at other dogs. Maybe Tom was right and I need to start looking out for her. She’s not a bad old thing as sisters go and I do love her really even if she does snore a lot.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Ten Random Things

Thanks to Patsy for the tag!

Ten random things about me - here goes.

1. My mum was a witch.

2. My great aunt owned an opal mine.

3. My grandad was born in Dublin.

4. My favourite crystal is Ocean Jasper. This is a particularly nice piece and the photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can see right into it, like looking into a glass cavern – trust me!

5. I’m a Taurean.

6. I’m also a Rooster.

7. I walked round for six weeks in agony with a broken foot before I had X Rays by which time the fracture had started to heal itself.

8. I like green sweets best. Yummy. Here is a picture of some Fruit Pastilles. No green ones. I’ve eaten them all.

9. I fall over a lot.

10. The first time I rode a motorbike I was pregnant and forgot how to use the brakes. It was also the last time I drove a motorbike.

And now your mission should you wish to accept it Wanna be a Writer, Gail, Penandpaints, Suzanne and Caroline – you know the drill!


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Teresa's Adventures in Kindleland - Part 1

I don’t mind admitting that my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders off somewhere all on its own when it comes to matters of technology, but Kindle – well now. It is simple I was told. Easy as pie. Well I can make a pie along with the best of them.

So I chose a book to e-publish – one that I had in a new version of Word, already published as a pocket novel and by Linford Romance. Book chosen, I set about designing my cover at which point I learned that designing book covers isn’t easy. Easy, that word again.

I set up my account and decided to ignore the bit where it said about downloading this-and-that to convert the file so Kindle could read it. In my poor little mind I had heard that it was easy to publish straight from Word and so I thought this was what I would do. Just like that.

Oh dear.

I know patience is a virtue and all that, but I only have a small supply and I’d used it all up so I uploaded my book and checked the preview. Hm. Well some of the Tabs were there. Some weren’t. It looked terrible. No one would want to read something so badly set out. So I deleted it and went back to the drawing board where I learnt that you should save your Word file as an html (web) document before uploading.

This I did. Better. The tabs were there, but some were big tabs of several spaces and some were small ones of just a couple of spaces. Still I had ignored the advice about downloading this-and-that.

This is just the beginning of the Kindle story – I hope! I’ll let you know how I get on in part 2.

Part 2

There you weren’t expecting it to be that quick were you? Neither was I!

I downloaded this-and-that – this being Mobipocket Creator and that being Kindle Previewer. And what I found was that my book was full – nay heaving – with hidden stuff and that about three chapters at the end were underlined. No matter what I did it was still there, but only in the html copy. I don’t do well with html.

My beloved suggested I save the Word document as plain text which I did, then re-saved it as a new Word document and there it was, without all the unwanted bits.

So there it is. I think I sorted out the formatting – I hope I did because I published two books to Kindle with my own home made covers. Gulp! They looked okay on the preview anyway. Yet still I managed to make a mistake. I set the price higher than I intended because I forgot to take into consideration that they add VAT, but I’ve put that right now

One thing I have learned from this experience – no, not the good old “Read the manual” thing, I will never make life easy by doing that – is that I will always endeavour in future not to overload my Word docs with formatting. Now I understand why publishers ask for things to be presented in a certain way and I have no wish to give editors stress, angst and headaches!

Now don’t laugh, but I’ve put a link to the Kindle books at the side on the right. So far so good. All I need now is for someone to be kind enough to buy them – cue hysterical rather desperate laughter. And now I think I need to go and lie down to recover and ruminate a little on the wonders of technology.