03 November 2006

Sketching (or sketchy?)

I haven't typed anything on the book for a few days. I have written a lot though. I call it sketching. A very, very long time ago, I was going to leave school and train to be an illustrator/comic book artist. There are several ambitions I've held at one time or another that I've sidelined for one reason or another that I still harbour the odd dream about. The illustrator/comic book artist thing isn't one of them. It may be the only one. I do still wish I could draw better, and occasionally pull Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain out to see if I can finally crack that negative space sketching thing. I do a mean Garfield. I even carved one into a mate's guitar once (with his permission).

So when, instead of writing the actual book, I grab my notebook and write a sort of scaled version of what's going to happen (I don't know what the scale is: maybe 1:5, maybe 1:10. I dumped geography GCSE to do art - the irony), I call it sketching. It's some sort of hangover from when I was scratching out anatomy diagrams with a trusty 4b pencil. It feels right. Some people use the term outline. That seems cold to me. Something to use when planning an academic essay or a corporate presentation. Images of bullet points of varying shapes with three word breakdowns of paragraphs or smilies to denote the mood of the chapter pop into my head. So I'll stick with sketching - fast, unrefined, rough, undetailed with scratchy lines that sometimes don't look like what they're meant to, loads of words scribbled out, filling notebooks until such time as it's ready to take the water colours out and finish the job.

There are only two more chapters to sketch. After that, there are five to paint.

I'm sketching in biro at the moment. 4b's rubbish for writing.

02 November 2006

And before you could say autumnal...

It's taken quite some time for the leaves to change this year. Summer lingered well past its expiry date and this has left the trees confused. In some places autumn blazes with its brilliant burst of yellows, oranges and reds, luminous against the green grass. In others the leaves stay green with stubborn refusal to accept seasonal change. Ducks and geese alike have yet to bugger off for warmer climes. I've been watching it all with interest. I'm fond of autumn - being from New England the appreciation of it was drummed into me before I could walk. I like observing the quiet changes, everything getting ready to hibernate or depart for the duration of the winter. Cozy jumpers come out of the closet (or would, were they not in a duffel bag on a moving van somewhere in North London) and the fires get lit that bit more often. It's a bit chilly but not bitter.

So you can imagine my disappointment when, after all this anticipation, autumn lasted one day. It was Monday, to be exact. Monday was cloudy and mild with lots of gusty, billowing breezes kicking the fallen leaves all over the cobbles. The air smelled of earth and leaves and, when a taxi passed, diesel. The occasional shower would add a damp mustiness to the scent and while there was a nip in the air, it was just a nip, not a bite. The trees in the breeze made noises apt for the night before Halloween, rustling and howling followed by whispers and a murmur. Tumbling into the warm pub from the bluster felt brilliant, as did the ale that came next. I marked it in my mind as the first proper day of autumn. I went to bed with a nice buzz from wine, beer and chat and woke up on Tuesday to find that the next ice age had arrived in Edinburgh.

Certain vestiges of the short season remain: the leaves are still lovely. But their scent is replaced with the crisp nose of winter. The wind remains, but is not billowing or blustery, it's biting and vicious, a lazy wind that cuts through you instead of going round. T-shirts need to be tucked in and it's a three layer minimum to step foot outside. The nights near zero C and while the sun shines brilliantly, it doesn't stay out for very long. My jumpers can't arrive soon enough.

In non-weather related news, I'm sketching the final chapters of my book. It's scary but makes me giddy. Once they're sketched, it's still 35,000 words to write. Close, and yet so far...

Some pics from my running route (not taken while running)

Beneath Stockbridge
Crazy rainbow cirrus cloud. I saw the colours only when wearing my shades. So I put my shades over the lens and Bob's your uncle. It's quite a wintry cloud as well...
Water of Leith heading towards Stockbridge

31 October 2006

Lish sent me this link. Crazy stuff: dark, surreal, brilliant and funny as well.

Happy Halloween. Or something.

29 October 2006


Cleaning out a computer is similar to cleaning a room. You find stuff you forgot you had and wonder why on earth you kept it. Then you're compelled to go over it all, revisit each document in an effort to work out why it's there. It's where nostalgia and bewilderment meet. The old essays and notes I understand. As late as they may have been, most of them took too much effort to relegate to the waste bin. And they don't take up too much space. But an old folder of awful net jokes forwarded around in the late nineties? My reasons for keeping that are lost, and so it gets binned. None of them were that funny in the first place and several are still doing the rounds. In great supply are various mission statements and life schedules. All carry the same sort of rubbish: ideas on how to get my life in order, diet plans, exercise plans, life goals et al. There are even check lists - with all boxes unticked. The language is earnest but uncomprehending and the long-needed changes came later and without ticking any boxes or writing any lists.

Amidst these odd documents I did find something quite wonderful; an anonymous quote that did me far more good than any list:
Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.
I don't know where I got it, whether it was sent to me or whether I found it online or not, but I'm glad I found it.

Last night Kirsty phoned up and asked if I wanted a free ticket to Vegas. I didn't know what she was talking about, and assumed she meant Nevada. She did not. Vegas is a roaming club, an event celebrating the halcyon days of big bands, sharp dressing and stunning women. I love big band swing and jazz. It makes me dance like no one's watching. And last night in Ocean Terminal we all boogied to the classics and delighted in brilliantly 'swingified' versions of Sweet Caroline and Wonderwall. People made an effort, with costumes ranging from Playboy bunnies to Hunter S Thompson is Fear & Loathing. Most of the guys looked like they got thrown out of the Rat Pack and the girls looked great and loved looking great. Everyone got into it - a thousand people turning a shopping centre in Leith into Vegas circa 1962. It was glitzy, ridiculous and brilliant. The ages ranged from 20 to 70 and they all just had a blast. We danced until 3am, and when the music finished it was 2006 again. The buses were scarce and the taxi driver home droned on about the miracles of the Atkins diet.

The extra hour came in handy this morning.

Today I had the finest hollandaise sauce ever. This evening? Well, this evening I have to work like I don't need the money.