Sunday, 27 November 2022

Portraiture

Bali (greyhound) and lad get snapped a lot when the latter comes back home for a visit but I particularly loved this picture with the drying tea towel/pyjamas backdrop.



 


Thursday, 24 November 2022

You learn something every day. Note number 2,000 or so

Maybe not quite that many, but I have many-a-time blogged about the sudden acquisition of a basic and somehow overlooked piece of fundamental logic.

I was reading about trees recently - deciduous varieties - and it seems that at the point that the tree decides, through chill or lack of light or combination of both that it is time to let its summer coat go, a chemical reaction takes place and each leaf detaches from the mother ship, deprived of its usual water and nutrient supply.

Every species of tree is different of course - early budding and early shutting down such as the horse chestnut, or more cautious, like our very late-leafing apple tree which still seems to have ninety percent of all its foliage. At the moment our lawn is perpetually covered with papery yellow and brown leaves of our towering lime tree. 

Usually, we rake, perhaps dump the leaves on a tarp and drag them to various mulch piles, the tarps gradually ripping and thinning in the process, or just pick them up by hand. But this year, Dr Lockett seized with sudden wisdom, cut two pieces of old hardboard from the woodpile and started to use them like large mole hands. It's transformed the job, the leaves crushed and pinned between the wood - actually very satisfying to do too. Why did we not invent this before?

Duh.





Tuesday, 22 November 2022

A very favourite place

Win Green hill in Wiltshire. Somewhere that Mum and I used to go to walk, listen to the larks twittering as they rose into never-ending summer skies and sit within the cool green shade of the hill's crowning trees.


I haven't been able to get back to Mum's grave since the day we said goodbye to her, the flowers and earth fresh, the plot waiting for its new little silver birch tree. Covid prevented the visit and only now have I been able to get away from home and make the trip back to Dorset.

So, I stood and talked to her for a while and reflected on some of the places we might have visited, back in time, seated in her elderly burgundy Nissan Micra. The sea, a walk at a favourite avenue of lofty oaks followed by tea and cake in the nearby café, an ancient hill fort with views across the undulating green countryside. Or, Win Green, a long curve of a hill topped with a wedge of stubborn beech trees, shaped over the years by the scudding Northern winds, a place that has featured many times in my books.


I chose the latter, and it being fairly . . . no, impossible, to access by public transport my lovely friend and fellow tree/hill/wilderness enthusiast drove us there. It was probably the first time I had experienced the hill without its gentle breezes, larks and nodding wild flowers. This day had been wind-wild, smatterings of horizontal rain, the beeches almost leafless and the usual views curtained by misty cloud, but it was just as atmospheric and memorable. We sketched, changed a few shouted words of appreciation against the blasts of wind then squelched back to her car to recover and plan where we could raise a cup of tea to Mum's memory.













Sunday, 16 October 2022

Paperback writer

I am one!

Londonia has been made into a paperback following its earlier appearance as a hardback.




When I started writing the book about seven years ago, my invented London's dystopian future seemed a long way away; something dark, a climatically and societally complex time.

These last few years have clearly shown that our taken-for-granted human-made political, monetary and life support structures exist on a knife edge; that the planet and its climate can no longer take the constant battering we have been giving it for decades, and that we have to figure out, and very rapidly, new systems, and accept that never-ending growth is not the future, rather, a humble acceptation of de-growth while there is still time...

Oof... Anyway, Londonia is certainly not all dark, a genre I would term Dyst-hopeia, dystopia with warmth heart, humour and hope. 

The new paperback is available on Amazon, Blackwells or from Tartarus Press directly, as is the hardback and ebook format.

The follow-up book is at completion point and I am seeking new representation to carry forward the Londonia series.

“British author Hardy debuts with a dystopian yet enchanting novel set in the early 2070s…Hardy’s almost hopeful view of the world’s inevitably chaotic future lifts this entertaining and well-told tale.” Publishers Weekly

Londonia's book jacket intro:

Londonia, that’s where we are. A sprawl of a place surrounding The Cincture - all of it once London town. 

Some persons say we’re in the year 2073, others cycle 60 . . . who gives a creepin’ beetle where we are in the history of man. Fukked it up good and proper didn’t we – they, humankind generally. 

All I know is I got my shed, my friends and a little bit of an angle on stuff – visions, see inside persons, y’know. 

Anyway, ain’t about me so much this book, more about Hoxton and her life. 

Within half a clockface I knew she was different . . . not so many damefolk would take over a church after waking on a bench with not so much as a gnat’s knowledge of what happened in their life before that moment. Got it sorted she has: a finder’s life for her – whatever you want: coffee, a shootstickfresh meat, Zeitporn, snash, gnole . . . her ‘an Jarvis, they’ll find it – for a goodly trade, of course.

All sorted until a jaunt into The Cincture caused her to learn something that opened up a chink into the past; something that started the ultimate finding mission. 

Anylane, I’m getting ahead of meself here. Pull up that armchair to the fire, turn this over and start reading. I’ll put the kettle on if the watermec’s been. Jake’s the name – Jake the prophet.

 

 



Monday, 3 October 2022

Oh, but to slip into sleep as a contented hound must do

As Shakespeare wrote in his play, As you would rather like it, back in 1624.


I think we all must suffer the annoyances of insomnia from time to time, or regularly or even almost constantly - if you happen to be like my dear mother. I could always tell from my first glimpse of her on a morning if the day was likely to proceed with her being wracked with grumpiness. She coped ok most of the time and would brighten considerably after a first creosote mug of tea but it was always a problem wish I wish she could have solved.

Currently, Mark and I have periods of insomnia which don't match each others at all. He will start sleeping as his head nears the pillow whereas I usually ruminate on some event of the day for a while or for hours if I don't manage to divert the thoughts with attention to my breathing. This often works but if a persistant niggling thought suddenly developed into something worthy of worry, that's it for a calm and restful night's sleep. Whereas, Mark often wakes at about four thirty - five/five thirty has somehow become alright - reads, makes bread (hurrah!) and does his worrying then.

Going somewhere else always breaks these sleep, or rather, non-sleep patterns, the sea being the best, but not overly practical, unless we move to the coast, but then we'd probably get acclimatised and all the patterns would reform and going away to somewhere else like a forest cabin would become the getaway, and so on.

I've tried natural, herb based remedies, mild-ish sleep, non-prescription pills, and full on sledge hammer tablets, non of which worked and the latter two gave me stomach upsets and heart palpitations. So, what does work - for me? Not eating too late in the evening, no caffeine-y stuff after about four, no looking at emails after late afternoon - in case of something angst inducing - and on a positive note, audible meditation and audio stories. Meditation does certainly work, especially the music-less ones that concentrate on slowing the breath and the nervous system generally, but to get into the right state takes some time and I prefer to use meditation now during the day at some point. The audio book is now my go-to sleep aid which works almost without fail.

I did have a few months of listening to Will Self's Book of Dave as I found his voice lulling, even though parts of the story are certainly nightmare inducing, but then the kind person who put it up on Youtube took it down again - possibly spooked by this one listener prodding the story into life several evenings a week.

So, the current favourite - The Secret Garden, read by Steven Garnet (Red Fox Voice). I hope he wouldn't mind me advertising this as a sleep aid but it totally works - for me. His reading is remarkable, the accents spot on, the pacing and tone, truly excellent. I know the story well from my childhood so enjoy all the characters, visual impressions of the garden, house and windswept moorland. That's the thing. It has to be familiar to assist sleep, the story known well so that the words act as a warm cocoon. A new story would be too engaging to encourage sleep and the subject, obviously, is important. American psycho or  The Road, probably wouldn't work . . .


 

Monday, 26 September 2022

Post for no reason other than colour

I strayed onto the Twitter platform this morning to 'Like' something - and I did genuinely like it, a Tweet from my publisher, Tartarus Press, about their latest book, Fifty Forgotten Books, an interesting tome I will buy for a certain person's Christmas present.

Twitter is a place of intense noise, less tweet, more Tinnitus. I used to add the odd comment but found I was thinking up banalities in order to receive my brain-hit of affirmation and backed away again. I'm sure it has its important uses, politically and informationally but it feels like just another layer of image and sound to be absorbed.

Anyway, as I started to scroll, almost unaware I was doing so, I noticed the image below and was struck by the pure beauty and calmness of the portrayed pile of plant dyed fabrics. After reading a Guardian article yesterday morning about the amount of chemicals, including, clothes dyes found in Raptor livers, noting something as simple as colours made from nettle, acorns and gorse flowers was somehow incredibly reassuring and at the same time overwhelmingly sad. How have we made such a mess of everything in such a short time on this planet?

Thank you to who ever posted the picture - sorry I failed to note the name. I might wander into the realm of plant dyes and incorporate them into my artworks that I will be starting . . . soon. After the building project is finished, see previous post.  


 

Saturday, 24 September 2022

90% there

I think. Maybe 85%, possible 92% depending on how much I peer in depth at our construction site next door. A quick glance in through the doorway - which now has very beautiful attached oak door - thank you Micheal - gives me the impression of, nah, not really too much to do now, where as a more thorough check though and list made . . . and yes there's still a fair bit to do; mostly finishing details, a bit of searching for old light fittings/remaining second hand furniture, filling a lot of holes with lime mortar (chaux) and a couple of things that neither Mark or I can do properly.


In France, or at least in our area, it seems really difficult to find someone who is a general (and reliable) all rounder DIY-ist, or Bricoleur in French. Every step of the renovating procedure has involved specialists in their own fields: stone mason, electrician, plumber, roofer, etc, and virtually no one who is capable of doing all of it to a certain level. I suppose it avoids mess-ups, and over confidence - 'yep, can do that for you, and the roof? yeah, no probs. I know this great shortcut using cardboard and old tyres.' 

But it would be great to find someone just to help with the last few bits - bit of a kick up our collective backsides to get the project finished.


But it will be finished, and when I look back at what we started with, well, we've come quite a long way in a year.