read, write, ramble

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January 18

I’ve failed to bring one of the bins down from the front lawn. It’s sitting there, lid open, all but abandoned now that its contents have been collected. It’s a windy night. The lid knocks constantly against the side of the bin … th-thump-th-thump-thump … I don’t notice it at first … th-thump-th-thump-thump … eventually I turn my light off to go to sleep … th-thump-th-thump-thump … when I finally identify the distant noise, it’s all I hear … th-thump-th-thump-thump …

The noise provides a haunting, fascinating, frustrating accompaniment as I lie there, too asleep to get up and move the bin, but not asleep enough to be oblivious to it. I drift in and out. Sometimes the bin is still there. Sometimes it’s silent.

Despite this–and the Kinderbeast awakening briefly at 4:30am asking to be tucked in again–I get up for my morning shift feeling none the worse for wear. I even feel better than I did yesterday. I don’t write as many words, but I’m happier with what I’ve written today than I have been since I started this particular story.

Of course, I start the day feeling fine, but gradually descend into barely functioning consciousness by the evening. A combination of sickness and broken sleep.

Nevertheless, we finally complete our Sherlock marathon with the Christmas episode, The Abominable Bride. The Victorian setting is a treat, but I still feel it’s a shame they had to tie it in so explicitly to the present-day continuity. I will forever admire Sherlock for its ambition, the fact that it’s never content to merely repeat the successes of its past and will always push that little bit further. Far more admirable than the critics who routinely proclaim that the show has gone off the rails. I imagine the same critics would lambast the show for being boring and derivative were it actually to stay on the rails …

I’m also impressed that the show has kept the Elderbeast’s interest throughout. We will now have to come up with something else equally worthy for him to binge on …

January 17

I wake up a little after the alarm goes off, when the Kinderbeast comes in to demand his morning feed, but the extra 15 minutes’ sleep does me good. I wake up refreshed and hammer out around 800 words on my accursed first draft.

But it’s all an illusion. As soon as I get to work I can feel the sickness creeping back in. I eventually have to head home as my brain is working about as well as my body. It’s my least favourite kind of sickness, something akin to manflu–too lacking in energy to get anything useful done, but not nearly sick enough to justify collapsing into bed.

Also, there is an entirely unacceptable level of warmth in the air.

The evening’s entertainment, as always, is Sherlock. We’re back to Season 3 now: His Last Vow. There’s a lot of nods ahead to The Final Problem, so it’s timely that our diversion into Season 4 has led us back to this one. Perhaps the show’s biggest strength is its villains, and Charles Magnussen is as compellingly repulsive as they come: an unforgettable character and a performance so committed that you can’t even see the acting.

January 16

Another Monday. I get up early and make a slightly better stab at my first draft than the day before. The rest of the working day proceeds with a sufficient number of meetings to provide a degree of distraction and I leave work having been reasonably productive. It’s about the best one can hope for from a Monday.

I talk to the Elderbeast about trying to make more productive use of his internet access. If only a few words sink in it’s probably still worth it.

We watch what may well end up being the final episode of Sherlock in the evening (given the previous episode’s cliffhanger, watching the subsequent episode immediately was a necessity). It starts off well, with probably the most terrifying villain the series has produced–an impressive feat after Toby Jones’s effort in the last episode–but then loses itself somewhat. There are still moments of brilliance throughout. Even when Sherlock fails, it only ever fails because it shoots higher than most and refuses to fall back on the same thing that has worked before. On reflection I decide that the series has perhaps strayed too far from the path: instead of compelling mysteries for the main characters to solve, the writers now feel they have to delve ever deeper into the mysteries and challenges of the characters’ own lives. It may be a superior form of the genre, but at the end of the day it’s basically soap opera.

January 15

I wake up early to write, but it’s almost immediately a bad idea. I’m starting a new story. As usual I’m tremendously excited about this particular story, but the gulf between the story in my head and what’s emerging in the first draft is vast. It’s always vast. It’s why I much prefer editing. Also, I’m definitely not completely entirely awake. I retreat back to bed as soon as the opportunity arrives, which ends up being about three hours after I first got up.

I emerge again when our friends arrive for a crafternoon. In some ways its the ideal social event for me: I get to enjoy the company of my friends, but since I don’t tend to crafternoon I can just sit back and passively enjoy the socialising. Meanwhile, the Kinderbeast and I watch Frozen (the Elderbeast, conversely, is sufficiently inspired by the event to sit with the grown-ups and do some crafting – which pleases me).

My infection is clearly abating as I end up being inspired enough to convert the Kinderbeast’s bed to a bunkbed, as promised about two weeks’ earlier. This is fairly simple, being an IKEA bed, and the Kinderbeast proves to be a worthy assistant. At the end of the project he is exceedingly happy, and proceeds to show off his new bed to our guests with exhaustively repetitive glee.

For the evening we make the decision to watch the most recent episode of Sherlock, The Lying Detective, since it’s almost inevitable that the much-mooted big twist will be spoiled for us as soon as the subsequent episode airs. It’s another fine episode. Toby Jones’s character is at once fascinating, compelling and sickening. It’s a smart episode that makes you second-guess everything, and I end up wanting to watch it again as soon as it’s finished (but I don’t).

January 13

I wake up reasonably certain that I am sick. As the morning progresses I become increasingly certain that I am sick, to the point that I decide to skip my 2pm meeting in the city. I could probably manage it, but I’m loathe to make anyone else sick, and equally loathe to make anyone else sit in the company of my hacking cough for the rest of the day.

I retreat to my bed for the afternoon and finish reading Paul Kane’s book about the Hellraiser movies. I come away from the experience with a–probably–unhealthy desire to watch some of the higher-numbered instalments.

Our friend Seb is unable to attend Fridate; it is definitely the week for being sick. The Kinderbeast settles unusually early and the rest of us continue our Sherlock odyssey. Tonight it’s The Sign of Three (a.k.a the wedding episode). I remember it fondly from my first viewing, but it’s probably even funnier than I remembered. The two stars’ drunk acting is so effective that the Elderbeast declares that he feels drunk just from watching it (he has, of course, never actually been drunk – those joys are yet to come).

We cap off with an episode of Blackadder, specifically Ink & Incapability from Blackadder The Third. I realise that I have neglected to introduce the Elderbeast to Blackadder until now and am delighted when he immediately declares: “I should watch more Blackadder!”

January 12

I suffer death by presentation for the first half of a day: over four hours of watching vendors show off their products. The presentations are perfectly engaging, and there is both morning tea and lunch, but sitting in a hard plastic chair for half of the day virtually kills me. I am a slothsome wreck for the afternoon. Today is definitely a reminder of exactly how tiring a simple day at work can be.

We have pizza for dinner and then sit down for The Empty Hearse. I love this episode, and the way it neatly bypasses providing a complete and authoritative explanation for the ‘fall’. I also love the cheeky way it manages to nvlude the various fan theories. I’m surprised when I realise that it’s written by Mark Gatiss, rather than Steven Moffat–it seemed far more Moffat’s style.

January 11

I wake up still headache afflicted. I get up and do my writing anyway. A 10am meeting in the city affords me a relatively leisurely start to the day. I do worry whether I’ll be able to make good on my promise to take the Kinderbesten swimming in the afternoon. I dislike swimming. I dislike public swimming baths. I dislike the very in-British heat we’re currently enduring. It’s confusing to be worried that won’t be able to do things I typically don’t want to do.

Ultimately the headache passes. We go swimming. Much fun is had by all. The Elderbeast expresses his amazement that even I have admitted to having fun. He knows me too well.

Finally we reach The Reichenbach Fall in our Sherlock schedule. Still a tremendous episode. I’m struck how, like Bela Lugosi with Dracula, we ultimately see very little of Andrew Scott as Moriarty, and yet his presence and performance dominates the show. The Elderbeast is appropriately baffled. A body double is his leading theory.

January 10

The day starts in the way one always hopes, with a near-collision into the rear-end of a transporter truck. I’m heading into a right filter lane, behind the truck. The truck enters the lane and then … stops. Luckily I manage to stop in time. The truck then attempt to reverse. I hammer the horn and it stops. I pull out and see that a car has stopped (or stalled?) in front of the truck. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m just relieved to be able to make to work with both myself and the car in one piece.

My Work Tolerance Factor is currently standing at slightly over 4 hours: this is the amount of time I can currently tolerate being at work. It’s to be expected after the lengthy Christmas sojourn. I’m still getting things done, and it’s still better than sitting at home and sticking knitting needles in my eye, but back half of the day is significantly more strugglesome than the early half. I’m sure this will change (eventually the entire day will become strugglesome).

For the evening we settle down for Sherlock once again. This time: The Hounds of Baskerville, which has always been a slightly unsatisfying instalment. As we watch it I try and figure out why: it’s a perfectly good episode-had it been a one-off drama it probably would have been considered excellent. Then it strikes me: it’s the structure. Watching Sherlock back-to-back you realise how much glee the writers take in messing with the structure, in making Sherlock as twisty-turny as they can. The Hounds of Baskerville, in comparison, is relatively linear.

I’m plagued by a headache for the latter part of hte day. I go to bed hoping it will have disappeared by the morning.

January 9

Monday. Shit …

The early morning chill and a fruitless search around the house leads me to conclude that I left my beloved GAP hoodie at Yahava yesterday. I remember taking it off and leaving it on the back of my chair, and have no memory of being in its company after that. This breaks the Order Of Things and, as such, is mildly depressing and equally mildly inconvenient. I consider contacting Yahava to see if the hoodie was found, and weigh up the inconvenience and benefit of returning to the Swan Valley next weekend to retrieve my hoodie. And also drink delicious coffee.

A few hours later I find my hoodie in the back of the car. I remember leaving Yahava with it wrapped around the back of my head to protect my tender skin from the brutal lunchtime sun.

Memory is a treacherous thing. We shouldn’t trust it. You definitely shouldn’t trust mine.

More Sherlock for our evening’s entertainment. I will happily keep watching until the Elderbeast grows bored or we run out of episodes. The latter is the far more likely outcome. Tonight’s episode is A Scandal In Belgravia. Laura Pulver’s performance as Irene Adler is so good you almost forget about Moriarty entirely.

January 8

A drive up to Yahava Koffeeworks in the Swan Valley starts the day. I regularly require vigorous coercion to leave the house, but the promise of excellent coffee is sometimes all it takes.

Our Christmas tree still stands. I fear it may be next weekend before it is packed away. This is, in fact, perfectly routine for our household, so there’s little reason to panic…

Apex Magazine email me to tell me they’ve decided to pass on my story ‘Til Death. Disappointing, but the odds are always against you in this game. I’m still pretty stoked to have gotten a second read. Onwards and upwards.

The Sherlock rewatch continues with The Great Game, in which we finally meet Moriarty. All previous memory of the episode has been completely eclipsed by Andrew Scott’s performance, and he’s still the most captivating thing in an otherwise perfectly excellent episode. To date the Elderbeast claims The Blind Banker as his favourite episode. We’ll see whether that changes with series 2, next week.

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