Friday, June 27, 2008


Up a Gumtree

I feel a lot better now, though am still a little weak. My financial difficulties haven't gone away but a new job may be on the horizon. We'll see. One of the things about having nowhere of my own to live is that my possessions are not at hand. I don't even have immediate access to my notes for The Pilgrim's Regress, so I'm deferring work on that novel until I secure a new flat. I can't wait to get back to work on it: but I'll have to be patient, I guess.

In the meantime I've decided to turn my Mr Gum tales into a small novel by writing and adding new material. The original five stories now form the first of three linked sections and I'm currently working hard on the second section. The third section will be a series of spoof detective stories. The end result should be a fully integrated obscene comedy that explores the neglected profundity of puerility. Naturally I intend to include characters from my other story cycles in this new project.

My Portuguese t-shirts are apparently on their way to me. I look forward to receiving them and wearing one of my stories. It's not everyday that a writer clothes himself in his own words. All I need is a top hat to go with my 'tales' and I can stroll into ballrooms and exclusive hotels without being slung out. Probably not. Last night I strolled into the Uplands Tavern instead to listen to the Rag Foundation supporting King of Despair. My friend Sarita turned up with a radical new hairstyle, but the fact it's a wig is a secret.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Who Would Choose to Chew Shoe Cheese?

The creation of new tongue-twisters is very cheap entertainment. Lack of money is urging Adele and myself to take such desperate measures. We do other things as well, though. We camped on Oxwich again, wading out to sea to pass the headland that separates that beach from Three Cliffs Bay. Before choosing our site, we went into the nearby woods to search for firewood. By the time we emerged it was dusk and we found ourselves in a marsh in the company of spooky will-o'-the-wisps. I don't believe in supernatural beings; but they do exist. Adele is more sensitive to paranormal phenomena than I am. But the night passed without undue hassle from ghosts of any kind and we woke to a glorious sunrise and the gentle pounding of the surf.

The following week I fell ill, maybe as a result from swimming in the sea (no beach in the world is really clean anymore) and my fever and muscle aches lingered until this morning. But I can't complain. My book, The Postmodern Mariner, has just been published. Steve Upham gave me ten complimentary copies yesterday when I met him at the 'Space, Time, Machine, Monster' conference at the University of Glamorgan. In a previous post I gave the date of that conference as July 21. I was wrong by exactly one month: the real date was midsummer's day! I delivered a lecture on OuLiPo that was well received, although one person afterwards told me that my shirt was too 'distracting'. Courtesy of my publisher, the above photo shows me signing copies of my book in that particular shirt.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Plus ça Change

I'm now the poorest I have ever been, so poor I don't actually have any money at all to my name! My lifestyle at the moment is therefore extremely basic. I ration my remaining food very carefully, drink only water and seek out free forms of entertainment while dreaming of those things I've run out of: coffee, chocolate, yoghurt with tropical muesli. I feel like a castaway on the shores of my own city.

But the sun is actually shining and summer really is here at last! I spend nearly every day on the beach, usually with Adele. If I'm Rhysinson Crusoe then she's my Friday. Also my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. We walked to Pwlldu Bay for a swim on the weekend and tomorrow we might go wild camping somewhere. Lack of money has affected my concentration: I can't write with my normal gusto, but I tend to work in fits and starts anyway so I guess that doesn't matter too much.

There's a good chance The Postmodern Mariner is going to be published very soon. June 12 is the scheduled date for publication but I probably won't get to see a copy until the following week. I await this book with the same excited impatience I await my next paycheque!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Outdoor Update

A fairly physical week. I went hiking in Powys with a local walking group, the Tawe Trekkers. We started at Craig-y-Nos castle and went up hills and through a forest to the Henrhyd Falls, apparently the highest waterfall in South Wales. The scenery was beautiful. I also went to Caswell for a very early swim and there was more swimming yesterday at Oxwich. Swimming is one of my weaknesses: I can't swim for more than five minutes before I start to drown! But I plan to do as many outdoor things as possible this summer, even if it rains!

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