Saturday, April 29, 2006

Conf 182: What's the Point!

Daughter's gone shopping to Kingston with a mate today. 11 yrs old - still seems young to me, but all her friends are out and about zapping here and there on the buses, so just have to keep cool.

I'm clearing out the garage, the last Big Jobbie around the house that needs doing. Fortunately it's integral, as they say, so am nipping in and out from kitchen and computer, feeding thinkings on my plotting with David Mitchell's Playing with Structure, (good to see he's a Hero's Journey person - recommends The Writer's Journey, Christopher Vogler's distillation) and Charles Palliser's Anatomy of a Story. The biggest question you should ask, Charles says, is 'what's the point?' What do we want the reader to take away from the story? The story has to have a point and yet it has to be disguised for as long as possible in the hidden narrative, ideally until the very end. A very good time for a reminder to look at the wood every so often rather than the trees.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Conf 182: Snick Factors

No. of royalty statements in post: 1
No. of lbs lost this week: 2

"A great deal of the satisfaction of reading fiction comes from the gradual or piecemeal revelation of patterns in the relationships between characters and actions in the book. ....there are pathways and junctions in your writing. The connections are your business as a writer. As you play with the toy, you feel some pieces slot into place with an encouraging snap. As you write, some ideas give you the same instant recognition of being ‘right’. As you revise your work, you try to achieve what the carpenter calls the ‘snick factor’ – the satisfying engagement of the lock as a well-hung door is pulled shut."

From Advice to Writers, by Kate Mosse .

Hooray, A4 envelope in letterbox from first agent. Have the Russians finally printed? Could this be 2 shiny new covers with different graphics and funny squiggly writing? No, no, another delightful royalty statement, bringing all those Amazon rankings home to roost. In the last 6 months Novel 1, published in 2003, sold 93 copies, earning me £15.72. Novel 2 (2004) managed minus 121! Upping my unearned debt to publishers another -£16.56! Thank heavens for library PLR figures, not to mention hard cash, keeping the ego faintly afloat.

Also got holiday photos back today, including some old ones on the reel from last summer. And there's me, looking the largest I've ever seen myself, Ever. Completely chinless, round and fat. 2 days ago embarked on Scarsdale Diet. Promise I won't mention it again, but, blimey, just as well!

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Conf 181: Bad Memory Not Alway A Bad Thing

All this plot business is new to me. Is that a terrible admission? Is all this crafting really necessary? It feels like it is & I wonder how on earth I was ever published in the first place without any of this.

Reading through the whole of the novel for my plot table started off OK. Then got extremely depressing and painful in the middle before perking up a bit towards the end. Best bit was reading an encounter with a twist in it I'd forgotten writing, and then the twist being revealed to me like I was a reader. Worst bit: too many worst bits, but have survived. I now have an 8-page chapter summary marked with conflict points, and Holly's 'candy' points. And a 2-page summary of the summary, to see how I measure up on Polti's dramatic situations count.

Allowed myself a bit of 'plot' googling just now. Warts & all diary of successful author Jessica Hart, this year's RNA winner, refreshing read. Dan Brown likes to solve his plot challenges by hanging upside down wearing gravity boots.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Conf 180: Useful Distractions

On Friday's library trawl, snuck in a 'how to write' book. In past few years have steered way clear, seeing them more as excuses not to write. Am still not totally sure if I've just come to another juddering halt and am disgusing it to myself by pretending to be swotting up in precious writing time. I certainly found lots to make notes about in Rosemary Aitken's useful book. This, along with hero's journey, makes me feel certain I am entering total plot-overhaul-land. The characters have done their driving, now it's time to tidy them up & make a proper story out of it.

Googling Emotions today's other useful distraction.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Conf 179: Variations on Cheese

Sister staying for couple of days so a day away from the writing today, visiting my favourite charity shops & picking through junk. I got a Betty Barclay black linen shirt, black linen trousers, not related, but they are now, and some new Italian leather trainers which have pleased me no end.

Novel-wise, still on reconstruction, one more day tomorrow, an uninterrupted day all being well, ready for the off on Wednesday.

Holly Lisle's 'line per scene' sounds useful exercise, though 'completely different story' scary:

"I’ve tossed the 30-page extended outline for the first book, and am now doing a line-per-scene of the candy-bar scenes I want in the finished book. From that, I’ll work out a new outline, and an almost completely different story. I liked the ending of the first one. I’ll keep that. Clearly, I like the first three chapters. (Now I do, anyway.) Everything else changes."

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Conf 178: Long Entry Using Other People's Words

I turned down some work yesterday. Eugh. Too tight a deadline. If I'd stayed up all last night and tonight I may have managed it, but as I'm out Saturday night and my sister's visiting Sunday & Monday no room for overlap. So I said NO. Always a scary thing for a freelancer to do.

Out of curiosity, googled one of Ed Ricketts' other disciples (mentioned yesterday) & discovered the Joseph Campbell is he of the famous The Writer's Journey . I had a go at his Hero's Journey construction method in Novel 2. Some of it was useful. So, in true Cagean synchronicitous style, am about to apply it to novel 3 & see what happens.

Along with this, will do some more major standing-back over the weekend, examining tension and conflict points and looking for more sub-plot opportunities which develop the theme.

Handy summary from Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI)


Brief explanations from every step of the Hero's Journey:

Departure
The Call to Adventure

The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.

Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.

Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.

The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

The Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.

Inititation
The Road of Trials

The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the "hieros gamos", or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.

Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.

Apotheosis
To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.

The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

Return
Refusal of the Return
So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?

The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.

Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn't realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
The Crossing of the Return ThresholdThe trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.

Master of the Two Worlds
In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.

Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.


And whilst on all things interrelated from poems to sea crabs, Daniel Barenboim's lecture on Sound, 'The Magic of Music', on radio this morning continued the theme:

VIGALUF:Hello, my name is Vigaluf(?) and I'm part of the managing committee of the Association of German School Musicians, in Berlin, and my question is, now you were referring to Pierre Boulez, and he is of course in the tradition of classical music. Is there ever a chance of avant garde music ever to become or ever represent the beliefs or aesthetics or ideas, thoughts, of the majority of people? Because you say classical music has to come out of its niche, and a modern form of classical music…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:(OVERLAPS ABOVE) Yeah, well I would not make a distinction. Wagner and Liszt were also avant garde musicians, but the avant garde of today is fighting two losing battles. First of all, that some of it has no contact with the past, which was never the case at all, but more important, it is fighting a losing battle in the sense that music is not part of society. And therefore anything that is not immediately accessible is very difficult to make part of our society. I think that a new work, the work of avant garde, has to have the possibility to put itself in the same programme with a symphony by Beethoven or whoever it may be, and, and then you see whether it stands on the same, if you wanted, the same league or not. I don't believe in making a niche, a separate niche for anything at all.

SUE LAWLEY:But people resist it don't they Daniel…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:People resist it because, because…

SUE LAWLEY:…because it is, because it's atonal and it doesn't appeal to them…

DANIEL BARENBOIM:No no no no no no…

SUE LAWLEY:…and their ear yearns for consonance, not dissonance.

DANIEL BARENBOIM:No no no no no no no, I don't, I don't believe that at all. People resist a lot of things. People resist every… a lot of music that requires er listening with thought. It's not only contemporary music. I played a concert in Chicago a few years ago with Yo Yo Mar, where we played two of the, the last two Beethoven sonatas and inbetween the sonata by Elliott Carter. And you know what, many people, including musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which are very experienced musicians both with the music of Beethoven and in the last twenty years the music of Elliott Carter, they felt that Beethoven Opus 102 was more modern. There was… I don't think that this is the point. The point is that there is no music education to speak of, and when there is, it is only as a specialised profession. And music was never a profession, music was always a way of life. I am sure Mozart and Wagner and Strauss and all the composers, as well as Pierre Boulez and Michel Guilan, who is sitting here, and all the great musicians, don't consider themselves that as a profession. They do that in a professional way, but this is not a profession, it's a way of life, and therefore you cannot make a niche for that.

and, more in relation to writing:

Wagner was a highly, highly intelligent human being in so many areas, and wrote what to me remains one of the most interesting books about music, on conducting, where he describes many of the bad habits of the orchestras of his day, which I must say are not that different from the bad habits of the orchestras today, and that is the difficulty to maintain this inextricable relation between sound and silence - how we start a sound, how we hold it, and what happens to the next note. When Wagner starts the prelude of Tristan, first of all what does he do? He starts the music out of nothing, on one note. (PLAYS ONE NOTE)So. If we listen carefully, and intelligently, we can imagine a thousand possibilities. We can imagine that as part of that, part of that, part of that, part of whatever chord where the A is in there. (PLAYED CHORDS DURING LAST SENTENCE)And then you have the F (PLAYS TWO NOTES)so that's ..?.. (PLAYS THREE NOTES). Obviously not. So what is it? This feeling of ambiguity and expectation is absolutely essential before (PLAYS ONE CHORD)the famous chord comes. If the bar before that had been fully written out, harmonically based bar, the dissonance would not have the effect that it has. But it is this creation of a situation of being in no man's land, harmonically, melodically, and also from the point of view of the sound. If we go from the silence... (PLAYS TWO NOTES)this is almost a modulation, a feeling of modulation in there. (PLAYS FIVE NOTES)Silence. Now comes the repeat for the accumulation, (PLAYS SEVEN NOTES)Silence. But the most important conclusion in the end is that Wagner very cleverly does not resolve, and he leaves the chord in mid air. I have tried to imagine how would a lesser composer, who, although being a lesser composer, had the inspiration, for want of a better word, to imagine the Tristan chord. What I want to show you now, and I suppose this will make you laugh, and which is not something that you normally associate with Tristan and Isolde, but how would he come out of this chord and not have the genius of Wagner of leaving it in mid air, creating a half resolution, which is the tonality for the repeat of the mood. It's the next one already in the key, because if you remember, after this, (PLAYS FOUR NOTES)if you keep the chord the next one is in the key (PLAYS SEVERAL NOTES)What would a composer with less genius and with less understanding of this mystery, of music if you want, of the magical quality that brings all the instruments together, he would think I have created tension, I have to resolve it. (PLAYS EIGHT NOTES)(LAUGHTER)Resolved. Next one: (PLAYS EIGHT NOTES)(LAUGHTER)And therefore I'm only bringing this up because it is this tension of being left in mid air that allows him to create more and more tension as this goes on. And the fact that ambiguity in music, in real life ambiguity may be described as a doubtful quality, somebody who is ambiguous, not knowing exactly what he or she wants, how to react etc. But in the world of sound, in this magical world of sound, ambiguity means that there are many many possibilities, many ways to go. And the longer you hold back on the resolution, the more interesting the whole thing becomes.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Conf 176: Rejection Letter as Marketing Tool!

No. of new words: 1,500
No. of new rejections: 1

Ooh, new e-mail this evening:

FROM: Reception 2 RE: Your Submission of Work

Dear Ms Amanda Mann,

Thank you for your recent letter concerning your work. First, I would like to apologise for responding with this standard letter but unfortunately we do not have the time or resources to answer every submission individually, although all material received is considered carefully.We are taking on extremely few new clients at the moment. We are concerned to keep the client base to a reasonable size and only wish to add to it when we feel very strongly about an author's work. In order to take on a new author, several of us here would need to be extremely enthusiastic about the content and the writing style. I'm sorry to say we don't feel that strongly about your work, but please do persevere - other agencies have other priorities and may be in a different situation.If you haven't already seen Carole Blake's book entitled FROM PITCH TO PUBLICATION (published by Macmillan - £ 14,99), which contains information on how to present your work to agents and publishers, you might be interested in obtaining a copy. If you would like to buy a copy from us for £12 (including postage and packing), please send us a cheque made payable to Blake Friedmann Literary Agency.I'm sorry not to be able to help and I wish you luck in finding the right agent for your work.

Yours sincerely,

AW
Office Manager

Full marks for industry, though. It was only a query letter, sent months & months ago, so there was no breaking down and beating floor with fists.

As is the way, the story continues to develop in the new draft, so am holding off everything agently now until the very VERY end.

An e-mail from script lady, saying she'd missed me (hooray) and loads of work coming in soon, so yesterday's work panic has abated, and must make the most of full writing days while I can.

Got going on new insert 'contrast' chapter today. A bit OTT flowery-wordly but am about to go and edit down hard copy and scribble it all out. At least it got me started again on new words. Have never really made full use of Thesaurus - such a heavy book to lift and seek and so many sub-headings to wade through. Could never work out where you were supposed to start looking, either, but online edition, discovered today, really nippy and useful.

Working on TV documentaries about artists for so many years, I was spectacularly lucky to have encountered some really towering geniuses. The one who made by far the most impression on me & who changed the way I thought and, eventually, lived, as he did to so many others, was John Cage . A lovelier, more modest, more funny, more adorable.... I'll stop there, but was so pleased, in a chuffed 'fancy that' way, to discover yesterday that Cage used to sit at the feet of Ed Ricketts , the guy I've been reading about on hols. He was the real Doc in Cannery Row , one of my favourite novels of all time.

'Ricketts followed a live-in-the-moment philosophy and he viewed everything as interrelated parts of a whole, Rodger says. "I think to Ed Ricketts there was no difference between a good poem, an interesting piece of music and... a sea spider." Rodger says it wasn't just John Steinbeck who appreciated Ricketts' mind. Those who partied and swapped ideas at the lab included the young composer John Cage, the budding mythologist Joseph Campbell and the writer Henry Miller.'

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Conf 175: In Box Grumps

No. of e-mails in In Box: 23
No. of e-mails from agents: 0

Back from hols, we had a great time. Speedferries sent us off in style with the best Channel crossing deal going. We got upgraded too, which always excites me probably more than it healthily should.

Very much enjoyed the Steinbeck book about his beachcombing journey with Ed Ricketts. Didn't get time to read anything else, dipped into the Cameron and McKee. The Bayeux Tapestry was so much more fun and interesting than I thought it'd be. Maybe the boozy lunch beforehand helped, but found myself laughing out loud at frequent intervals. It's massive, as everyone knows I guess, but didn't realise quite how big. The running commentary phone thingy cleverly keeps you going at a fair trot, a run, even, which is just as well or I'd still be there. It also adds to the impact of flow and movement and llth Century Simpsons episode feeling. We also visited some lovely Brittany beaches. Apart from the blockbusters like the tapestry, Fort La Latte is my favourite kind of French tourist site. No crowds, no bossy 'Keep Off' signs, you're just left to explore & imagine & tumble down cliffs and wells if you're not careful.

Back home, finally got on computer after daughter had made breathing contact again with her MSN mates. Must try and stay away from all businessy sides of writing and stick to the words and words only. This is the final term of giving the writing as best a shot as I can give it. The script work isn't regular enough to keep the happy balance, so, come September will have to take any job going, even if it is on the stacking shelves/mini-cabbing level.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Conf 174: Contrasts and Twists

No. of new rejections: 0

Time away from novel proving constructive on a bigger picture level. The first half is far too densely wham bam one after the other, needs more narrative contrast, the second half too predictable. Graham Greene said one of the most important elements in a story is contrast. And we all know about twists. Instead of having her decide where to go, and then going there, will have her decide to go somewhere else. OK, more of a feeble turn than a twist, but it's a start. Really need to go through the whole thing now, looking at each decision taken and see if it can be played with more.

All quiet on the rejection front. Glad to see The Guardian have used one of my pieces today, name in print could add a tiny bit of weight to applications. The US Family Circle interview due out this month, too, which is last month now, the way magazines work. Journalist said he'd send me copy but know he won't so partner has ordered from one of those international newsagents.

Whoop, cider & crepes here we come. Haven't bought any books for hols, but have a few library books, will take the Steinbeck & Julia Cameron, & the Darcey Bussell pilates DVD. If I COULD breeze into bookstores and buy buy buy, I'd definitely get Salley Vickers new one.

Bye bye, thanks very much for visiting. Hope to 'See' you in a week's time or thereabouts.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Conf 173: Work work

No. of new rejections: 1

Dear Amanda,

Many thanks indeed for your letter regarding your novel FF.

I’m terribly sorry but as an already very busy agency we need to be extremely highly selective with new writers. We’re a bit buried under submissions at the moment I’m afraid, but do send in a sample in a few month’s time if you haven’t secured representation in the meantime.

With best wishes

Submissions

I'd forgotten even writing to that one, so long ago. Kind of her to eventually respond, though. As this is J K Rowling's agent, unsurprising they're inundated.

Our writing group on Monday was at L's. After years of hard slog, her first novel Gideon The Cutpurse was picked up by the super-agent Caradoc King and then bought by Simon & Schuster last autumn. But we weren't too surprised, it really is a fantastic time travel adventure, as the publishers' blurb says, lead character a cross between Dr Who & Gandalf. We're all getting very excited about its forthcoming birth into the real world in a few weeks' time. The best thing about getting a good deal is you get the marketing and publicity budget to go with it.

I've been working on scripts about slobs who drink too much. Complete with hassly phone calls from agency this morning asking how long I was going to be. But it's WORK! and I'm very grateful for it too. Translated my earnings into Euros this afternoon, ready for hols next week.

As have stayed away from novel writing for nearly a week now, am determined to clear the decks before I return to the slog. For a change of scene, might enter this travel writing competition, fantasy job no. 1 after novelist.

If anyone feels like donating to a worthy cause, my friend Sarah, a true original as always, has got a slipped disc & is selling her pain on e-bay.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Conf: 172: Sushi & Marian Keyes

No. of phone calls from BBC: 1
No. of e-mails from BBC: 1
No. of submissions sent to agent: 1

A ha, so received the call as to why I wasn't called for interview for my old job. A young girl explained there was a very large response to the ad, and the reasons I wasn't shortlisted were:

a) I hadn't done any drama reconstruction (true, but a bit of an obscure, specialist skill in amongst all the documentary, studio and music prog. requirements)

b) I hadn't enough experience in programme budgeting (NOT true I growled to poor girl, I've managed £1 million budgets single-handedly, done all forecasting, running costs, final reports etc).

Couldn't be bothered to argue corner, not her fault etc etc, so off she went a quivering.

Then I got this:

Dear Amanda,

there has been a substantial backlog of email requests to action so apologies that we haven't got back to you in good time. This matter has been passed on and i believe you have now been contacted by AV. In future if you require immediate assistance or your query is time sensitive please use our phoneline, the number is below.

regards,

B
Recruitment Response Team
BBC Recruitment


Which manages to be slightly snooty and irritatingly illiterate at the same time. I could have replied and said that if you phone you get told to e-mail and around and around it goes but then he would have replied in 8 days' time saying 'i believe you sent a query relating to the query which should have been..... Heaven help the poor people who have to work through this kind of stuff day to day, I'd rather stick to my freelance pootling.

Was only after the phone call that I realised the most likely reason for not getting an interview. No degree! My old chestnut. The thing that stopped all progress before. Now that everyone goes to university, the first filter is to cut out all the thickos who didn't go to ewe-knee. It's a fact that when I was at school, girls weren't encouraged to go into further education, university was for the really swotty bright ones. This all changed shortly after I left, so by the time people 10 years younger were at school it wasn't a problem any more. No good telling them that though, just flags up how ancient you are. Telly friends at dinner last night suggested faking a degree for CV in future, as nobody checks. It's either lying through teeth or accepting defeat. Made sushi for our friends, a bit scary but actually dead simple. We're lucky to have a good fishmongers in Twickenham. They even slice the tuna for you so all you have to do is make some rice blobs and glue fish on top with bit of wasabi.

Marian Keyes on start the week this morning. Excellent discussion with rest of panel discovering what a brilliant author she is. And lovely interview with the dalai lama in the Telegraph on Saturday.

"What shall we talk about today?" he asks, rubbing his hands together as I tell him about my meetings with Tsering and Heidi. He chooses to discuss the West before Tibet. "It is fascinating," he says, speaking in slightly stilted English. "In the West, you have bigger homes, yet smaller families; you have endless conveniences - yet you never seem to have any time. You can travel anywhere in the world, yet you don't bother to cross the road to meet your neighbours; you have more food than you could possibly eat, yet that makes women like (fat) Heidi miserable."

It's the school holidays and am now being pestered to play MakeyourownOpoly.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.