Thursday, 28 May 2009

In Which there is an Author, a Reading, and a Signing

About 10 days ago, I went to check out Patrick Rothfuss’s, blog and noticed that he was doing several signings in the UK, and that he was trying to arrange one in Taunton, subject to being able to get from Glastonbury to Taunton. I thought, 'Hmm. I have a car, I live practically next door, I was planning to take Tuesday as a day off work anyway, and I think that Authors going to bookshops and meeting readers and fans is a Good Thing....' so I sent him an e-mail offering my chauffeur-ing services.

Which led, pretty much directly, to my being in my car, en route to Glastonbury, on Tuesday morning, to collect an author before travelling on to Taunton

Rothfuss is the author of The Name of The Wind which is his first novel and the first part of a trilogy, and which I can definitely recommend (unless of course you are likely to become fretful or aggrieved at the fact that books take longer to write than they do to read, and that therefore you will have to wait for parts 2 and 3...
He is also a very nice guy, and an interesting conversationalist.

The signing in Taunton was small – as it was on a weekday and arranged at short notice there weren’t huge numbers of people there, which from the point of view of an attendee was great, as we got to hang out & chat. I'd like to think that we made up in quality what we lacked in quantity.

We all talked - about reading, and writing, and whether the books you love are hoarded or pressed upon all comers, and whether it is ethical to donate bad books to libraries, and about swine flu - Pat was fighting off a bug of some kind, so we were considering getting T-shirts, 'I met Pat Rothfuss and all I got was Swine Flu' - and about Serenity, and urban fanatasy and genre writing.

And then, after Pat signed further copies of the book for the shop. (We tried to persuade him to sign other author’s books at random, but we were unsuccessful)
We headed out to Vivary Park, where we sat in the sun for more conversation. We addressed the question of whether having a child, and reading aloud and telling stories to him/her will stand Pat in good stead when it comes to doing the voices when reading his own work, or whether it will simply mean that book three reads “Here’s Kvothe. See Kvothe run. Run Kvothe, Run”... we talked about Santa Claus and mineral water, how we see different characters from the book, and then Pat read to us from the second book – just a taste, to whet the appetite.

And then we all went for dinner.

Where conversation included asking questions about the book and it’s inspiration, but also all manner of other subjects, such as the plural of Lego and some nice Italian food.

I don’t know whether all fans of The Name of the Wind are as companionable, or if we just struck lucky. It felt like spending an afternoon with a bunch of old friends, except I hadn't met any of them previously.

It was a lovely day.

I don’t know how Pat would rate me as a chauffeur, but I would certainly recommend him as a passenger!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

In Which Jeremy Hardy Speaks to Bath

On Sunday evening I headed in to Bath once again: I bought a ticket some time ago for tonight’s show, by comedian Jeremy Hardy I was in two minds as to whether to go, because although I very much wanted to hear what he had to say, I’m still very stiff and sore after the accident on Thursday and wasn’t sure whether I would be able to sit for 2 hours or so in the theatre’s picturesque but not always very comfortable seats..

I decided to go anyway, on the basis that I could leave at the interval should it prove too uncomfortable.

I’m not sure how well Jeremy Hardy is known outside the Radio 4 – listening public – he is a regular panellist on ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, and has often appeared on ‘The News Quiz’, as well as having had his own Radio 4 show (‘Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation’) and appearing in various TV programmes, including QI. which led him to explain to us that he also does Glastonbury, to try to build up a younger audience, the R4 demographic being a 'risky' one...

He’s a funny guy. Very conversational style – some anecdotes, commentary about religion and politics, immigration, MP’s expenses, going to the gym, and the poor drinks generally available in theatre bars.
Possibly my favourite part came when Jeremy Hardy was talking about immigrants and said, "what's wrong with there being Polish people here - they have loads of them in Poland and they seem to get along alright" (I may not be quoting exactly, and of course I lack his delivery, but still...)
That, or perhaps the sample postcards to illustrate his lack of interest in blogging...
I was very, very stiff by the end of the evening but I did enjoy myself, and shall be looking out for his next visit!

Friday, 22 May 2009

In Which there is Nearly a Very Nasty Accident

I was feeling very happy and cheery as I drove home from work yesterday. It had been a pretty good day - I’d got a decent amount of work done, had some satisfied clients, and it was a lovely sunny day, making the drive home through the Somerset countryside a pleasant one.

Until, that is, I stopped at a junction and the car behind me drove into the back of my car.

That’s not my idea of a fun end to the day.

On the plus side – they did not shunt me hard enough to push me into the oncoming traffic, and they were very pleasant people – you couldn’t wish to be run into by a nicer couple, even if they were driving a BMW!

Also on the plus side, neither my little Smart nor I was seriously damaged. I have whiplash, so my neck, back, shoulder, arm and wrist (and my knee, so some reason) are very uncomfortable, but I’m reasonably confident that it is “just” basic whiplash – the hospital seemed fairly confident that I hadn’t broken anything essential.

As often happens with this kind of thing, I mostly held it together until I got back home, at which point I burst into tears all over my house-mate, (who administered tea, sympathy, food and chocolate as required for the rest of the evening)

Then had a fun trip to the local hospital. I was fairly sure that there wasn’t anything major wrong with me, and that they wouldn’t do anything for me except advise me to take anti-inflammatories, and try to keep mobile, but it doesn’t seem wise to make assumptions, particularly with a neck/back injury.

I have to admit that I am curious about how the local hospital’s ‘minor injuries unit’ copes when it is busy. I arrived there at about 6 p.m., at which time there were two other people in the waiting room. No-one else arrived after me, and I was finally seen just before 8. And then they told me to take anti-inflammatory painkillers, and to try to keep mobile and that I didn’t seem to have any bony injuries. It’s as well I had taken a book with me. After the first hour, reading 2 year old copies of motoring magazines and ‘Hello’ would start to pall.

As always with these things, it actually hurts more today than it did yesterday, plus of course there is the tiredness that comes from stress followed by sleeping badly.

But as a friend said elsewhere “very sorry to hear that, but happy that you are typing and not say, in a coma.” I’m feeling very grateful that it wasn’t a lot worse.
The kindness and sympathy of friends, and a few strangers too, was also a real silver lining.

The car looks OK – several lights lit up on the dashboard when I got in to drive back but having spoken to the garage which looks after him, they have think that probably it has damaged the crash bar (which seems logical) and the sensors – I am taking it in for them to look at on Tuesday but they’ve said if that is what is wrong it’s a fairly easy fix, and that they have the parts in stock so will be able to do it then and there.

Of course, I had the conversation with the insurance company who wanted me to take it to their ‘preferred repairer’ instead, but agreed in the end that I don’t have to. (Past experience tells me that non-smart garages tend to get confused by Smart cars, they never have the parts in stock so they take a long time) Happily they agreed that I could get it done by my garage, but warned me that if their engineer subsequently decided that they had overcharged or that the damage wasn’t accident-related they might not authorise payment. I’m pretty confident neither of those things will happen, and as the repairs are likely to be £150-£200 and I have a £100 excess, worst case scenario would be that I’d be out of pocket by £100. Not what you want, but for me, the peace of mind of knowing my car is going to be dealt with by people who actually know what they are doing is more important!

Stayed home from work today – partly because I didn’t want to try driving the car until I’d checked with the garage, and partly because I didn’t really feel up to it physically, but I’ve been able to get some work, via the wonders of the interwebs, so it isn’t a dead loss!.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Which is mostly an excuse for pretty pictures of flowers

We have had several beautiful sunny days, and the garden, small as it is, is blooming. I have aquilegia (which I don’t recall having planted – perhaps they hitched a ride with something else I transplanted from my parent’s garden), plus my surviving clematis has started to flower,
as have my pansies.
And none of my vegetables have died yet, which is a bonus.
Tybalt has been enjoying the sunshine, and so have I (although I have not (at least as yet) been rolling around on the patio!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In which there are Sculpted Sheep

So, my car was due for a service (in fact, it should have had it 1,000 miles ago, but I haven’t been very organised) I knew that I had a lot on, so I arranged to take it in first thing in the morning , on the basis that the garage would not have had time to build up a back log, and that I would then have the rest of the day to catch up on other tasks.

The garage which looks after my little car is excellent – they specialise in Smarts, and know exactly what they are doing (The official Smart/Mercedes garage calls on them when they need help…) and they are both cheaper and , for me, much more convenient than the main dealer. Their timekeeping is not their strongest point, however, hence my wish to get in at the start of the day.

The drive over was lovely – the roads were empty, the sun was shining and all the hedges are full of flowers. The hedges themselves are all that lovely new, bright shade of green you only get with the new growth in Spring, and the hedge-bottoms and woodland are full of bluebells and wild garlic and cowslips – very nice to be driving past in the spring sunshine.

The garage is on a little industrial estate and if it has a disadvantage it is that there is nothing to do and nowhere to go within walking distance. I had brought a book to read while it was serviced but as it was such a nice day decided to go for a walk instead – I do want to try to get fitter than I am (losing weight would be good, too, but being less unfit is my priority), and this seemed like a good opportunity.

I walked up to the Cannard’s Grave roundabout – Which is well known locally for the ‘Rock Flock’ - a small flock of sculpted sheep, which tend to be decorated and embellished throughout the year as appropriate. At present, they are just their usual selves, but at other times of the year they may appear in Santa Hats, with a May Pole, wearing Easter bonnets etc. I was happy to see that the solitary Black sheep, who went missing a little while ago, appears to have returned safely!

The sculpted Sheep were the high point of my walk, but walking along, even just by the side of a road, in the sunshine was as pleasant a way as any of passing the time, and when I got back I only had a short wait for my car, which, I was happy to learn, didn’t need anything unexpected or expensive doing to it!

In the afternoon I met my new house-mate at the station and then she unpacked while I read the papers, before sharing a meal. Tybalt approves. He has been much friendlier than is his wont, which I take a good sign.

It was a good day.