A mandate to bicker

I had hoped the letter “Can’t claim Labour has no mandate” (Slough Express 25th May) was a councillor responding to my published letter explaining why I spoilt my ballot paper (from wocNote post). I am so naïve. This letter was just the eternal Labour vs Conservative mutual defamation.

It was no surprise to read Slough councillors continuing to bicker and play their party politics violin while the flames of disaffection have consumed 80% of the electorate.


I have the brain of a sparrow

The Sparrows' Café
Bird bath and sown peas

Thoughtful planning, woc!

I have today sown peas next to my garden’s new birdbath thereby creating The Sparrows’ Café.

Gourmet, apart from what the birds put in their drinking water.

Similar to what is in my skull.

The roofer and the radio

Old workmen worse noise polluters than young
A man has been pointing ridge tiles on a house four gardens from mine for a couple of hours. His ears are at chimney pot level while his radio is on the patio. It is blasting 70s nostalgia through the blue sky heat of this otherwise tranquil day.
Had it been a young man or 21st century woman on the roof there would have been an mp3 player in a pocket, buds in the ears and peace for everyone else around.
Instead one has to put up with this older odd-job man who hasn’t moved on from when transistor radios were a novelty.
When he blared being ‘with it’ through playing a pirate radio station full volume on Brighton beach and gloried in being thought a ‘renegade’ by the scowls from families nearby. Thus does his noise pollution today drive my imagination.
Decades on he has that same thoughtless attitude of his music in everyone’s ears and is stuck with the same old music. On this glorious day I sit in my lounge reading a book with the double-glazed windows fastened shut.

When a spoilt ballot paper is a vote for democracy

Today I exercised my right to vote for a councillor on Slough Borough Council. I know the date through receiving the Official Poll Card. Today is a local election and my ward is Haymill. I know this because I have lived here a score of years. However, I do not know who any of the candidates are nor any of their policies regarding local issues. I do not know this because no candidate has sent out any information. I had to go to slough.gov to find the number of candidates.

That is why I spoilt my ballot paper, writing the explanation ‘I do not know who these people are nor their opinions on Haymill issues so how can I vote for any of them?’

They are standing to represent me in my locality yet cannot be bothered to announce who they are or their views on Haymill matters. That is arrogance spawned from national party politics. It is an insult. It is cartelocracy not democracy.

In a local election we’re not dealing with trade sanctions against our next village or evaluating nuclear energy within the ward. We’re dealing with play area equipment in one small park, with an alley needing a street light, with a development reneging on a planning order to restore trees it destroyed. That’s nothing to do with party politics, that’s local decision making, local budgetary management and local planning enforcement.

At the local level I vote for a person not a party.

In these elections I was offered no persons as candidates only puppets for political parties. I voted accordingly. Meanwhile, 80% of the enfranchised residents expressed their opinion by not voting at all. The new Councillor Anonymous has no mandate for the Haymill Ward until he communicates proactively with us residents.

At the typeface April 2012

Current project: Story collection as an ebook

Product. Still dithering, as per moi, with the choice of stories. I’m changing the criteria for the collection’s theme faster than the April weather and using the same unfathomable reasoning.

Production. Discovered the sample books I downloaded are DRM locked. Started thinking about that issue for my ebook. I want mine circulating. End of thinking.

Draft cover for Computer Dating ebook
Draft cover for Computer Dating ebook

Created a draft of the cover. Suddenly feel I’ve made a big stride towards the ebook itself after all the time with production and promotion. Next day spotted the strapline read ‘and other coffee table stories’ rather than ‘coffee break stories’. Too close to the typeface to see the text.

Vacillated over security when paying for ISBNs. Used the experience to practise posting a blog. [Hurdles to ISBN] So now I can specialist-blog. That will really boost my ‘discoverability’.

Disregarded my Project Timetable and embarked on a Production Process Evaluation, aka displacement activity from deciding which stories to include. Not so! This is a quick test to gather essential information for optimally formatting the stories before editing them. Right.

Amassed the draft cover, keyed all the prelims and acknowledgements utilising hyperlinks at the end. Oh yes, one test story as the sandwich filling using the new ebook template.

Some several evaluation runs later . . . I finally achieved a boost to confidence and optimism. But where is the actual content? What about promoting it? Just savour this moment before moving on.

Promotion. Tried to capitalise the first letters in my new email address. Another of my tweaks resulting in a tsunami disaster. My chosen Universal Authoring Name is now forever unavailable.

Created my blog site. It’s a mess but it’s a milestone. [Hopefully better by the time this gets read.] Three days to enhance my website! The dormant computer analyst in me activated to chase down every incongruity. Thank goodness I’m not charging time and materials to this project.

I have opened a Twitter account. Not sure it’s the right place for a Cancerian to be. Another tool acquired – Calibre – with more learning to absorb.

Postscript. At last I’ve recognised the magnitude of this project’s one-off activity: acquiring and learning the tools required to publish and promote the ebook. Made it a specific phase in my (dynamic) Project Timetable.

Three hurdles to an ISBN

Sent off my application for ten ISBNs with the second cheque I’ve written this year. First hurdle, hunt for a pen with black ink to complete the form. Blue is de rigueur. Second hurdle, the Nielsen Agency application form demands every detail about my credit card on one page along with my signature.

No way is that conveniently collected information going in the post. Especially as the other cheque I’ve written this year was posted in February and is not yet received by Luvlady.

Scanning the Nielsen form and attaching it to an email is the other method the agency offers for sending all my credit card details. That’s secure.  So a cheque goes in post.

Third hurdle, my printer placed the address at the very top of the DL envelope. I suspect this is a consequence of the recent upgrade to OpenOffice 3.3. The idea to use the label template put that address off the side of the label. Back to the pen with black ink to handwrite the address.

The under assertive south coast bon mot man

Well, I’m waiting at the bus stop in downtown Saltdean. Yeah, I’m sitting next to Luvlady waiting for the bus. But I’d much rather be on a sofa in her lounge. It’d be lounging there, it’s perching here. Our bums hooked over a garish red plastic sill. We’re like two ciggies hanging from a floosie’s lips. Hey, that’s sharp. Because I’m sharp. Well I’m sitting here thinking just how sharp I am.

A silver car glides into the yellow box of the bus stop and rolls to the end. You’re still in the bus stop, moron. There’s a gap two cars long down the street, you myopic moron. That would be too far to walk, you mindless myopic moron. I’m sitting here thinking just how irritated I am. No one would know it from the outside.

The car reverses up the hill from the open pavement to stop right smack in front of the bus shelter, the raised access kerb, Luvlady, me. I’m sitting here ablaze at the inconsideration for all but the self. Well, fuming. Well, I’m sitting here smouldering discontent.

The driver switches off the engine. His beige clothes match the pallid complexion across his peanut face and over his bald crown. This is a seaside town, you prat; you should get out of your metal box more. He’s looking about his car. Probably for a shopping list of one item. He probably porks his wife the way he parks his car.

Now his eyes are fixedly forward because he’s just seen Luvlady and me sitting at the bus stop, sitting waiting for the bus, the bus that can’t get into the bus stop. This driver with pin-head tunnel vision begins closing the driver’s window.

I’m aware that Luvlady is preparing her onslaught. I need to act. In my sweetest not-being-aggressive voice I ask: ‘You do realise this is a bus stop, do you?’

‘Course I fucking know.’ Recessed eyes look at me. I hold my benign-but-resolute gaze. He quickly looks away as if I might have the attributes of Medusa. Ah-ha, think I (because I’m sharp) he knows what he shouldn’t be doing and wished he didn’t know. Better if he wished he hadn’t done what he knows he shouldn’t do. Creaking out of his car, gynaecomastia1 first, pumpkin-belly unfolding after, he makes an attempt to regain some moral ascendancy by questioning the mode of my interlocution. ‘What sort of a fucking question is that?’

‘It’s called a rhetorical question,’ I reply, in my helpful-and-informative voice. I wait for the slow drip-feed of information into his pumpkin-seed brain. ‘The bus is due imminently,’ I add, now suspecting information transmission is by osmosis into his single cell organism. ‘That is why we are sitting here. Sitting at this bus stop,’ I say with my explain-all-but-keep-it-simple voice.

‘Mister Fucking Clever, are you?’ I happily take that as his essay into the rhetorical. ‘Think I’m thick?’ he adds. Some people can overdo the rhetorical.

‘From your recent action of parking your vehicle on a bus stop, adjacent to the shelter and by the raised kerb, in answer to your question

I am addressing the man’s receding back. My reply has been so encompassing as to exceed his attention span, and he has forgotten he asked a question, never mind what it was. He is loping towards the booze / ciggies / tabloids / saturated-fats-in-a-bag shop that is his pilgrimage this Sunday afternoon. It is a just-about achievable distance for him by foot from his vehicle although, to be fair, the pavement is six flags wide. I predict to Luvlady (because I’m really sharp) that he won’t be able to drive away without making a snide comment at us.

The man swings his fresh non-recyclable plastic bag of purchases into his car after passing by us with neither acknowledgement nor address. Safe within his saloon of silver armour he glares straight at us and snarls while pulling away, ‘Have a nice fucking day’.

His emergency stop is impressive. The saloon halts half a metre short of the Number 57. The car’s rear wheels are still within the yellow rectangle painted on the road. The bus driver’s command of vernacular rhetoric is the most impressive I have heard today.

Luvlady and I grin silently to each other. I’m sitting here thinking just how sharp I am. Hang on, that’s our bus down there. Oh-oh, it’s pulling out into the road round the stalled car.

NB The rhythm for the opening and the sentiment are from Rolling Stones song ‘The Under-Assistant West Coast Promo Man’.
1) gynaecomastia = man-boobs. I came across the word recently and I’ll forget it if I don’t use it.