Boys’ Jobs and Girls’ Jobs

Fuse box
wikimedia commons

About a year ago, Theresa May, when discussing domestic arrangements at Number 10 Downing Street, mentioned that Philip (her husband) did the boys’ jobs, like taking out the rubbish.  In these emancipated times, there should be no boys’ jobs and girls’ jobs, but, as we all know, the reality is different.

My husband is currently away from home, visiting his mother, so, at midnight last night, I found out about one particular boys’ job I’ve always evaded.    I was on my way to bed.  I’m switching off the hall light downstairs and flicking the switch for the landing light, but, Dear Reader,  upstairs remains in darkness, however many times I press the switch up and down.  I grope my way up to the bedroom, where I observe the mains-powered alarm clock functioning normally.

Oh, I think.  Oh.

I can diagnose the problem, but my normal solution is to get my husband to deal with it.  The job involves a trip out into the Arctic (otherwise known as the garage), a stepladder and peering into a fuse box, with a torch.  A little girl like me can’t be expected to tackle such things.

But there’s no one but me.

I consider leaving the job until morning…

But, Dear Reader, if something’s got to be done, it might as well be done now.  I take a deep breath.  I pick up the big torch in the hall and press the button.  Nothing.  (Thank you, Grandson.  I suspect that’s you.  Switching on Grandpa’s torch and aiming the light face downwards on the desk seems to amuse you.  You forget about it and leave it like that.)  What sort of batteries do I need?  Where are the spare batteries?   I sort of know, but I can’t be bothered to start searching at twelve o five.  Hang on, he’s got another torch, on top of his hifi.  (Where else?)  It’s not as big, but it will do.

I unlock the garage door.  The blast of icy air can’t be good for me;  I’m nursing a chest infection.   I switch on the light.  Silly me!  Why all that bother over torches?  I can see perfectly well with the normal electric light.  I do have to find the stepladder and climb up it though.  I look into the fuse box.

One switch down…

Well, that’s one switch up now.  Suddenly the upstairs landing is bathed in yellow light.  Alleluia.  Anything you can do, dear, I can do too.

I can…

  • Put out the rubbish as well as any PM’s husband (black bin and recycling).
  • Prepare a log fire and even light it.
  • Hoover, even the bits which involve moving furniture.
  • I can do most of what I need to do on computers, iPads, iPhones or whatever, but I can’t manage television or DVD player.  This is not a problem for me, as I don’t watch television, although it can be when grandchildren are demanding Milkshake and we’ve got CeeBeebies on.

But, I must confess, I can’t change a wheel, or do any maintenance on my car.  For that, I have to go to the local garage and ask the GIRL who works there.


Nothing Much This Week

animated-frog-image-0015Over the last couple of evenings, I’ve just three book reviews for my Dear Reader blog.  I know some of my followers aren’t too bothered by book reviews, but I’d really appreciate it if you would take a look.  Just this once.   The books I reviewed are:

‘Katharina Luther Nun Rebel Wife’ by Anne Boileau.  As you’ve probably worked out from the name and the title, this is a biography of Martin Luther’s wife, but she was quite a girl.

‘American Notes for General Circulation’ by Charles Dickens (his research for Martin Chuzzlewit, btw, and… revealing the identity of the real Eden swamp.)

‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ by James Runcie.  The first of a series in cosy crime, and, apparently, appearing in a series on ITV.  (How do I miss this sort of thing?  Too busy writing (no, working) to watch telly, that’s what.)  Five more to read.  Bliss.  Plenty of dark winter evenings left.

What I’m saying is that, having written three book reviews, I think I’ve done my duty, and so I’m not posting on this – writing – blog this week.

Enjoy half-term week.



IWSG: What Do I Love About Historical Fiction Genre?

We IWSG-ers are asked, this month, about what we love about the genre we write in most often.  I write modern-historical, what some publishers would call contemporary, stories set in 1970s and 1980s.  According to the Historical Novel Society, a proper historical novel ‘must have been written at least fifty years after the events described’.
You’re expecting me to say the research is the thing I love most, aren’t you, Dear Reader?  But you’d be wrong.  As a history student (a long time ago), I spend three years with my bum on a seat in various libraries around Manchester, researching.  I would often find myself sitting next to one or more of my history honours colleagues, most frequently, next to Anne, who is now a professor of medieval history.  In those days, libraries were supposed to be silent, but we used to chat and giggle… about boys mostly.  So, nowadays, I do my initial research impatiently, wanting to get on with writing the story, and then further research, as required, as I go along.
What I really love about historical fiction is immersing myself in another era.  I love the challenge of writing about people who don’t have all the mod cons we have, how they communicated without computers, for instance.  My lot had telephones… some of the time, when their telecommunications weren’t cut off for political reasons.   I like using contemporary language, referring to contemporary issues and, especially, pop music.  I suppose there is an element of nostalgia in it… which brings me on to another point.  What I have found is that, in writing modern historical, I need a lot of background information about how ordinary people lived their lives.  This is more necessary for me in my modern historical sub-genre than for writers in the proper historical genre, because there are people still alive who lived that life and who would know if I get it wrong.  What I really would like is a library of personal reminisces, written by those people.  Couldn’t we writers write one?
The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when we post on our own blogs, about our doubts and the fears, which we may (or may not) have conquered, our struggles and triumphs.  We also give support and encouragement to each other.

Competition Tips

sad_100Apologies for the many re-blogs over the last few weeks.  Due to work and other commitments, I haven’t had time to compose my own posts.   Since the beginning of January,  I’ve probably written more words than anyone, Dear Reader, but the not right sort of writing.  Together with a lot of other things, I’ve actually produced four worksheets on how to use WordPress to build a website.  I completed the last worksheet last night.   They are for the web development class I’m teaching, but I’m happy to share.

Two weeks ago, I attended the Association of Christian Writers Committee Retreat in Northampton.  The ACW Historical Fiction comp closed to entries on New Year’s Eve and winners have been notified.  We are now working towards the next ACW comp, which will be for journalism.  The launch date is Saturday 10 March, so look out the ACW Competitions page at around that time.  ACW comps are free to ACW members and, for non-members, the fees are only £3 for the first entry and £2 for the second.  Almost free!  We do good prizes too, £25 book token for first prize and £10 for second prize.

If you’re wondering what on earth Psalm 137 is about, look closely at this map!

After the journalism comp, the ACW comps that follow will be:  a piece in any format based upon the first verses of Psalm 137 and then a comp for writing for children.  I understand that some writers are put off entering ACW comps because they don’t feel confident about writing Christian bits.  What I would say is you don’t have to lay it on with a trowel.  Contemporary Christian fiction isn’t like that.

I  thoroughly enjoy being involved in ACW competitions, although my role is organising and administering them, not judging.  I have to find suitable judges, sometimes, although, mostly, my ACW colleagues are good at making suggestions.  The other day, I read a very interesting post on Patsy Collins blog, Words about writing and writing about words, in which another writer, Sheila Crosby, was talking about being a judge of writing comps.  I endorse every bit of advice Sheila gives, with two additions:

  • Check the format required. If the comp asks for play-script or poem, don’t enter a short story on default, as, I’m afraid, a lot of entrants do.
  • Check the file type required. Most comps ask for .doc or .docx (ie Word formats). Me, I’m a nice helpful competition manager, and I will try and rescue works in other formats, but not every comp manager is like me. It is possible to convert from Mac formats and OpenOffice formats to Word format, but this is not always straightforward. If you can’t work it out, query the person running the comp.

Hope to be writing proper posts on schedule from now on.  I’m off now to attempt to finish an article I’ve been trying to write for about three weeks, then to review a couple of books on my Dear Reader blog.