Jonathon Dean

Writer. Human. Nerd.

Category: Blog (page 2 of 4)

Well, this is embarrassing…

So my plan to post an update every Sunday didn’t exactly go to, um, plan.

Alright, so I’m only a day out, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too bad, but still. Two weeks in and already I managed to forget to blog? Doesn’t exactly bode well for the future, right?

I’ll make my excuses now; I’ve had a busy week. I’ve been doing some subcontracting work lately, looking at survey responses from Iraqi refugee camps for Save the Children, and it’s left me a little bit drained.

There’s really only so many times you can read statements from parents talking about their children drowning in unsupervised areas of the refugee camp, or from children talking about how their family members have been killed or kidnapped by terrorist organisations, and still want to come and type out some light observations about spaceships.

It’s easy to just drop into a funk about all this – after all, it is pretty depressing that these camps not only have to exist in the first place, but the fact that so many of these personal horror stories go largely ignored makes it so much worse. Of course, we all know that these things go on, in a largely abstract sense, but to see them written up in such a clinical, emotionless way that auto-translation software delivers is an entirely different experience.

I guess the thing about fiction is that we can choose to use it as an escape from the harsh realities of life, like the refugee camps, the hunger and misery, the abuse of human life and the future and livelihoods denied to so many, or we can use it to bring these abstract horrors into sharp relief, putting characters we get to know and love into the same situations we have in real life. Ordinarily, I’d take the second route every time. This week, though? I need an escape.

Student Invasion!

Ah Manchester.

I’ve lived here since coming to university a decade ago now, and the city never ceases to amaze me. Since Manchester is home to three huge universities, as well as a few smaller academic institutions, there’s a big student vibe to the place. Not only that, but since the student population numbers somewhere around a hundred thousand, the summer months are a completely different world.

I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to live in a place that doesn’t have tides of students flooding the city in September, and leaving parts of it virtually empty in the summer. Of course, this is the best way around it – I’d rather have fewer people competing for space in the beer gardens when it’s gloriously hot, wouldn’t you?

But this isn’t about that Manchester, where beer gardens in converted Victorian warehouses overlook gently flowing canals, built to cater to many more residents than are in the city at the time. No, this is about the other Manchester on the other side of the tide, where thousands of eighteen year olds, freed from the yoke of their parents for the first time, arrive in the city simultaneously and proceed to get spectacularly plastered.

I can’t begrudge them for that – I did much the same myself – and it does eventually calm down. But for the first few weeks of new student arrivals? The student-heavy areas of the city are a sea of vomit and broken glass, and the bus routes are jam packed full of hammered idiots who haven’t the faintest idea how either buses or money work.

But you know what? I wouldn’t trade this for any other city. They turn up, they go nuts, and eventually they become a proper part of this living, breathing organism of a city.

Staying Regular

So I’ve had this site for a few years now, and yet it feels like I’ve been neglecting the actual “blog” portion of it.

That’s largely because blogging isn’t actually as fun or interesting to write as fiction, and so I tend to skip over it. For someone like me, for whom a “schedule” is something that the rest of the world obeys and I tend to just drift straight past, the idea of knocking out a few paragraphs of something every week sounds perfectly sensible and easy in principle, but in practice it’s something that I’ll just plain forget to do.

But I’m making the effort. With liberal use of various reminders, alarms and scheduling tools, I’m actually going to make this blog a regular weekly blog. Who knows, I might even get around to writing some more Stories Behind Stories content as well.

The big issue that arises then is, well, what the hell do I blog about? Who cares about what I’m doing with my time? (Hint: it’s not much) Who cares what some unpublished writer on the internet reckons about writing?

Still, even if it’s a case of slamming my head on the keyboard a few times until some vague, half-formed stream of consciousness dribble falls out of it and forms some vaguely word-looking shapes on a screen near you, it’s more than I was doing previously.

I can’t promise you it’ll be good – but I can promise you it’ll be here.


What Do?

I’m torn at the moment.

I don’t seem to have any particular writing projects ongoing any more. Which means I’m antsing for a new one, which means I have to pick and develop one from the big long list in my brain, which means that actually being able to sit down with characters I know and put them on the page is kinda not really possible.

I’m also wanting to write more short fiction, since it’s been a while since I had one of those published, and I wouldn’t mind being able to have a few more pieces of my actual fiction online for you guys to read (and maybe add a new page to the site to list off my published fiction and where you can find it) – but for the moment that is quite a small amount, and I think having a tiny amount listed would probably look worse than having none listed at all.

Which means I can pretend to have had loads published, when really there’s not been a huge amount as I’ve tended to neglect the short fiction aspect of writing in recent years.

This was a cunning plan up until the point where I told you about it. Whoops.

Now, I’m not really one for reading authors’ websites. Most of my reading materials tend to come from the charity shop, as I’m not fond of reading ebooks and commercial book prices tend to get very expensive very quickly if you read quite as much as I do.

I know, I know, I’m hoping to make a living out of reading, and Kant’s Categorical Imperative would suggest that buying books almost exclusively from a charity shop isn’t great (honestly guys,  stop waving your degrees in political theory at me, mine’s already giving me dirty looks), but then there can be no ethical consumption under capitalism anyway, so this is a systemic problem and Kant can have an ethical ghostfight with Marx over it if he wants.

(Before you write in, yes I know that’s not a Marx quote, and apparently comes from the Tumblr hivemind – but I reckon Marx would have agreed with it anyway, and some ghost or other has to fight ghost-Kant, otherwise he’ll start trying to organise ectoplasm for maximum utility.)

So, as I was saying before that particular tangent, I don’t tend to read author webpages, particularly not of ones like myself who haven’t managed to attract a publisher’s eye with shiny things (agents, publishers, if you’re looking, I have some shiny things for you to look at), but it seems to me that there’s little point with no actual fiction on display. Who wants to read the blog of a writer who, as far as you can tell, hasn’t done much and isn’t very good in any case?

So short stories should be my current goal, but I can’t say I’m as fond of writing them as I am longer projects.

In any case, blog posts where I write about ghost-Kant and my own lack of committing to a new project for 500 words don’t get a new project committed to. But then, very little seems to these days.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a blank word document to stare at.

The End of the Road

And now for the final part in my increasingly inaccurate trilogy of five (say, that’s catchy!), the final leg of our fellowship’s journey took us through the mountain staircase of Cirith Ungol, and into Mordor… Nope, hang on, not that one, that was last year. France. We went through France.

Since we’d spent more time than planned in Switzerland, and in any case we’ve all been to France many times before, we ploughed through most of the country at lightning pace. Despite that, the first night in France’s campsite proved to be… a challenge.

Despite multiple phonecalls, the camp site we had decided on just wasn’t responding. We decided to gamble, and make for it anyway, reasoning that in that part of France, there were plenty of campsites around, and it wouldn’t be difficult to find another if it turned out to be full.

We probably shouldn’t have made that gamble.

For various mountain-roads-related reasons, we didn’t end up getting to the camp site until around 9pm. At which point it turned out to be full, at which point we needed to find another camp site. And fast, because it was starting to go dark.

We made for a nearby campsite listed on Google Maps, but when that turned out to be little more than a gravel car park next to a public hole-in-the-ground outhouse, we decided that camping there simply wasn’t viable. The solution? Basically, camp in a truck stop.

See, in France, Italy and a handful of other countries, they have what are known as aires; service stations with basic facilities for campervans to stay for the night. But these sites aren’t really designed for pitching a tent, so we were lucky to find one with a scrap of grass suitably well hidden behind the van. At least these guys had proper toilets, running water and showers – I even managed to plug in my phone for a few hours while I ate a €7 boxed salad.

Back on the road, and thankfully free of the noise of crickets (!), our destination for the day was Château de Fontainebleau, just southeast of Paris. Now, not to demonstrate my ignorance, but I’d never heard of Fontainebleau before we got there. Finding out that it was the palace that Napoleon abdicated in, by reading the plaque in the actual room where he signed the papers, was quite a nice surprise.

As ever, French palaces are so much more elaborate and over the top than any other palace I’ve been in in any other country. There’s something about the absurd amount of riches so gaudily on display that it’s hardly a surprise that the French people decided to snick off the lot of their aristocrats’ heads. Can you imagine being one of the revolutionaries walking through those rooms for the first time? There’s not a single sight in the world more likely to convince you that what you’re doing is just.

And hey, as ever, I’m a sucker for a gift shop full of tat.

From there, we had about an hour to eat before moving on. Unfortunately, cafés and restaurants in France like to close (or at least stop serving food for a few hours) in the late afternoon before re-opening for evening meals. Which just so happened to be when we needed to eat. Cheers, France! That’s a stop at the Carrefour, then!

At least the camp site for the second night in France was quite nice again. Actual toilets, actual showers, actual electricity hookups, and an owner who apparently didn’t notice four of us in the van, so as we later found out only actually charged for two of us. Which was nice.

Tents up, plugs in, showers had, bowels voided, mead drunk. Early bed, early up, and early ferry.

Or, what should have been an early ferry. Thanks to the new border security checks taking forever (despite apparently only checking our passports and nothing else), we ended up waiting over an hour, and missing our ferry as a result. And we were stuck behind this bonkernaut;

It’s worth noting that that level of junk-strapped-to-the-car continued around the sides and the front of the car too. I’m frankly astonished they made it through the border checks without having every inch of the car checked over.

Actually, I’m not entirely sure why the border checks took as long as they did. Admittedly as a van full of four white British people, we’re likely getting through the UK border checks pretty swiftly compared to say, a dark-skinned family from the middle east (not to imply that the current British regime’s immigration and border policies are racist, but, you know, they are). Even so, if this is the kind of ballache the Daily Mail want when anyone attempts to enter or leave the country, they can piss off even harder than they already should.

Eventually the ferry arrived. We grabbed a beer, sat out on the deck, and waited for the floating building to carry us back to Blighty (which, as I discovered, is actually an Indian loanword). Just one brief stop in Oxford to visit a friend, and it’s back to sunny Manchester.

Returning from a journey like this can only ever be mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s back to life as normal, without the thrill of adventure or new places to explore. On the other, it’s a return to home comforts; a soft(ish) bed, hot and cold running water, showers, a full kitchen, friends and family.

I find myself wondering whether, for all that “travel broadens the mind” is true, perhaps the break from everything you know makes you appreciate the things already around you that little bit more.

Still, I can’t wait to do it all over again.

Swissness as Usual

In a surprising twist, here’s the next part of my adventure log.

So we left behind the camp site at Monza, with its squat toilets and ravenous mosquitoes, and set a course northward to Switzerland.

Annoyingly, to use the motorway system in Switzerland, drivers have to pay a toll and display a sticker. And even more annoyingly, the annual sticker is the only option, so that’s 40 Francs (£35 or so) gone for two days in the country. Still, the Swiss motorways are a bit of a wonder. Given it’s a mountainous country, most of the network consists of either bridges or tunnels, and some pretty impressive ones at that. At one point we went through a tunnel that came to 17km in length, and naturally, we didn’t have any clue that it was going to be that long until we were already in the tunnel and saw the sign. So much darkness for so far. The Swiss delved too greedily and too deep.

But hell is Switzerland pretty. Even when stuck in a traffic jam, the scenery is breathtaking. But that was nothing to the view from the campsite.

We actually stayed at this site for two nights, and it was an absolute delight. The owner is a delightful eccentric bloke who doesn’t speak a word of English, but is always happy to help out. At one point we were struggling to get our barbecue lit, as we’d run out of firelighters. The owner walked into the house, and returned moments later with a huge industrial brazing torch, and helped us light the thing with that.

The area we stayed in was between Interlaken and Grindelwald. Both phenomenally pretty places, but only one of them is named after a Harry Potter character (yes, the place was definitely named after the character and not the other way around. Definitely). This was the one that we chose to hike in. And when I say “hike”, I mean “hike to a pub 1300m above sea level, then have a pint.”

By pure coincidence, they day we were there turned out to be Swiss National Day. Exactly how we managed to do that first in Belgium, and then in Switzerland, I have absolutely no idea. But we managed it.

I have to say though, Swiss National Day is much more interesting than Belgian National Day. Firstly, there are shops open, and the entire country hasn’t come to a standstill. Most importantly though, because it seems to mostly involve drunk Swiss people throwing fireworks around.

We spent the evening watching the fireworks displays in Interlaken. For someone from England, used to an impenetrable wire fence and hordes of security guards every November 5th, the Swiss approach is oddly relaxed. I just wasn’t prepared for crowds of drunk people casually lighting and throwing in their own fireworks, and this being a perfectly acceptable, normal occurrence with no need to involve the authorities. Basically, Swiss folk are mental.

The next day, we packed up and left early. Another drive through the Swiss mountains, and eventually stopped for a few hours in Bern. As a city, Bern does a great job of combining the traditional with the modern – though I can’t say I think the collection of plastic dog statues dotted around the city quite chime with the centuries-old cathedrals and medieval clock towers. Though the Swiss national obsession with fountains was very welcome on such a very hot day.

After Bern, we made for Geneva. And as it happened, we had a friend of a friend working at CERN. Which meant that we went to visit the world’s largest and most expensive particle accelerator, and they let us mooch around the goddamn control room, mere centimetres from the computers that control billions of pounds worth of scientific equipment (and the ridiculous number of empty champagne bottles lining the walls).







From there… into France!

There and Back Again

So here we are, the third and final [yeah, this was the plan – sorry, you’ll just have to put up with another part or two, otherwise it’ll nd up far too long!] part of my summer roadtrip adventure.

After the exhausting, exciting and ex…tremely awesome week that was Metaldays, it was time to bid farewell. Farewell to metal (particularly since the van’s music system had gone bust), farewell to the awesome Metaldays arena pizza, farewell to that melon flavoured vodka stuff that we drank near constantly… and back on the road.

Getting out of Slovenia was considerably easier than getting into the country. The lack of any van-related smoke was a good sign, for starters, and it wasn’t long until we had crossed the border into Italy.

Just a few days after we left continental Europe, it entered a danger-level  heatwave, with the temperature in many places exceeding 40°C. Luckily we missed those highs – in a van without air conditioning, that sounds like a pretty good approximation of hell. Passing Venice, the heat hit its highest temperature of the week at around 34-35°C, and even that was a little too much, with windows open fully as we belted down the autostrade, trying desperately to make enough breeze not to cook, and guzzling down litre after litre of water.

In fair Verona, where we made our first stop, the sun was high, the river was beautiful, and our clothing was already soaked with sweat. Well, we had to have something icky, otherwise it’d all get horribly, sickeningly romantic.

Of course, we couldn’t go to Verona without doing something a bit Shakespearian, so we all held up skulls and… nah, just kidding. We did actually go to the balcony of Juliet. Two things struck me while there – first, the decades of regular rubbing have meant that Juliet’s statue’s breasts are a noticeably different colour than the rest of the statue, thanks to the repeated polishing. Second, that the romance of lovers writing their names on paper and sticking them to the inside of the courtyard entrance is slightly undercut by the fact that a not-insignificant number of them are written on sanitary towels.

Much of the pageantry and tradition here seems to be for people hoping for luck in their love lives, which seems particularly unusual to me. Do these people not know what happens in Romeo and Juliet? Luck in their love life is pretty much the exact opposite of what they got. Might as well rub a statue of Richard the Third in the hopes of good posture. For that matter, I wonder what happens if you rub Bottom’s bottom?

Our bed for the night (I know, actual beds!) was at a hostel at Lake Garda. Annoyingly, the absolutely stunning Lake Garda was a place we had deliberately planned to spend time in, but by the time we get there it was early evening, we had a vanload of laundry to do on the single washer and dryer available, and another gigantic thunderstorm was about to start. And so, the night was spent eating watermelon in a large room filled with Italian teenagers playing drinking games, and waiting for our laundry to finish, because we are just so damn rock and roll. Any other night I’d have personally outdrank the lot of them, but the night after a seven-day booze-filled metal festival? Nah man, I just needed to go to bed.

The next day, another disappointing lack of time meant that we couldn’t spend any time at all in Lake Garda (so that one’s in the “to revisit” folder!) as we had to hightail it to Milan, as luckily we had a local guide to show us around.

My first thought in Milan was “Wow”, my second thought was “Bloody hell”, and my third thought was “I really wish people would stop trying to scam money out of me.” This third thought was primarily intended for the street-level scammers, who attempt to tie string bracelets to you and then guilt you into payment, but in hindsight I should have also applied it to the local shops, who apparently quoted us a price of €2.50 for gelato, before revealing it was in fact €6 after the fact.

Many of the sites in Milan are churches and cathedrals – including one church that’s made out of bits of other churches (and also has the skeleton of Saint Ambrose on display in a glass coffin, because why not?). Which does mean that I’ve been to more churches this year alone than I have at any other point in my life – which, for someone who had a full Roman Catholic education, is actually quite impressive.

Holy hell though, Milan is pretty. The sheer amount of marble and gold and effort that must have gone into everything is truly staggering. It does make you wonder what architectural treasures the UK might have had if Henry VIII hadn’t bulldozed as many monasteries as he could get hold of, if there had been a true British Renaissance in the Italian sense, and if the Georgians and Victorians hadn’t simply decided they could do better and gone on demolishing sprees of their own.

I couldn’t let this write-up of the day in Milan end without my favourite statue of the whole place, though;

Yeah, that’s right, I am not a grown-up.

After loading up with a hell of a lot more drinks, we made for the final campsite in Italy – based in the grounds of the Monza racetrack – before making our way northwards to Switzerland.


To be continued. Again. Sorry.

Metaldays are Here Again

Last week I posted the first part of my trip; the drive down from Manchester to Slovenia and the various ups and downs (both in terms of events and, y’know, altitude) that it involved. But why drive all the way to Slovenia? What madness could possibly have possessed us? Why not just fly, for Odin’s sake?

The answer, in short, is Metaldays.

Last year, my festival quota was filled by France’s Hellfest, but Metaldays is an entirely different beast.

First off, the sheer length of the thing; three days is one thing, but seven? It becomes the difference between a sprint and a marathon. Second off, the heat, since Slovenia regularly reaches 30+°C, and so by 8-9am sleeping in a tent becomes sleeping in an oven. Not exactly conducive to hangover sleep. In fact, from what I hear, it’s the heat that dictates the festival’s length; attempts to run a 3-day festival in the blazing sun resulted in a lot of people fainting in the heat. Solution: spread the bands out over a long time, and start the bands around 3-4pm.

The result is one of the nicest, most laid-back festivals ever. There aren’t many rock festivals where getting up early, having a proper breakfast, a shower, perhaps a walk into town, a few hours’ swimming and hanging out on the beach, and then catching every band on the bill is feasible – but Metaldays has all that and more.

Given that, the fact that the first two days had what I can only describe as biblical f*ckstorms, complete with constant lightning, rolling thunder, and rain and wind so hard they even took down the third stage, and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d made some terrible mistake in choosing to go there – but the weather in the mountains is a fickle beast. An hour, maybe two, of torrential hammering rainfall, of lightning illuminating the skies and thunder loud enough to set off car alarms, and then all clear again. All sun, all shine, and back to hot.

And hell, to watch the clouds roll up the mountainsides, it was majestic.

The only miscalculation was to use a single-skin tent, that has done me well in France and the UK, but in those kind of hammering mountain storms? Well, even the best water resistant fabrics can only withstand a certain amount of water before they simply give up (otherwise they – and their occupants – wouldn’t be able to breathe, naturally), and in this case… yeah.

Luckily, the van was available to throw all the drenchables into, so my tent just needed mopping out and it was good to go for the night – though, in future, that’s gonna need replacing!

As for the van itself. Just having it there felt like decadence. We actually had a fridge to keep beer cold, and a place to charge phones! Luxury!

After the storms, we spent most of the day just relaxing on the beach by the river. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared for anything in my entire life as some of those guys – and I’m looking primarily at the Germans and Austrians – are to hang around that river. Some of them brought soundsystems, parasols and beach shelters, giant novelty inflatables (a strange quirk of fate meant that Lidl stores across Europe were all selling giant unicorn inflatables for cheap – so the sight of a hundred metalheads riding inflatable unicorns down the river was inevitable), and one guy even brought a full sized accordion to play as he sat in his inflatable boat.

(Alright, I didn’t get any decent shots of the river, so here, have these official ones courtesy of Stipe Surać – yes, I am in one of his shots, and no, you can’t see it.)

As for the bands themselves? Honestly the one band I absolutely wanted to see were the mighty Iced Earth, who I’ve never managed to see since they come to the UK so infrequently (and almost exclusively London), as well as Doro, Equilibrium and Amon Amarth, among a fair few others. All of whom were, predictably, fantastic – and even those who I thought were a strange choice for Metaldays (Marilyn Manson, I’m looking at you) still put on entertaining shows.

I think the number one thing this festival will be remembered for, however, is the moment grim, kvult, black metal legend Abbath fell down a hill mid-set, live on the jumbotron.


At least his Motörhead tribute band are goddamn awesome.

For me, these kinds of festivals are as much about the bands that you don’t expect to see as the ones you do. I love seeing bands I’d never heard of before, and leaving as a fan. This year, that honour goes to Triosphere, Shotdown and Greybeards. Rock on, guys.

So that was that, a solid week after it had begun, Metaldays was over for another year. Goodbye Tolmin, I will most certainly be back.

Next stop (and next post): Italy!

On the Road to Metal

So, I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and that’s because I’ve been pretty busy.

I mentioned before about all the groovy stuff getting in the way of getting any actual work done, but it’s kinda difficult to feel bad about it given how just gosh-darn awesome everything has been for the past few weeks.

I suspect this will be a pretty long thing, so I’m gonna have to split it into a few parts. First up, the route to Metaldays!

For those (I suspect most) of you who’ve never heard of it, Metaldays is a week-long heavy metal festival in the mountains of Slovenia.

And guys, it’s really hard work.

I’ve been to this festival before, back in the long-long-ago when it was called Metalcamp and I could recover from hangovers much more easily.

But I’ve always flown, and this year we decided to roadtrip the thing, all the way from sunny Manchester, through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. And hell, what an idea that was!

With a bit of a rocky start – the Eurostar sold out just before we managed to book our tickets, so had to reorganise the trip around the ferry instead, leading us to spend the first night of the trip crashing in the van in a pub car park in Maidstone – the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly.

As we got into Belgium, ready to stock up on water and snacks for the long drive south, we were surprised at how quiet it was. Slightly later, we were surprised at why the Aldi was closed, even though the sign quite clearly said it should still be open for another six hours. Slightly later still, we discovered that July 21st was Belgian National Day, and thus everything was closed. Bugger. Eventually, after some frantic googling, we managed to find a supermarket across town that was still open for half an hour. Foot down,  a scramble down the supermarket aisles and some frantic French translation later, and we had some basic provisions to last us all the way to the camp site in Luxembourg. Huzzah!

Actually, the camp site in Luxembourg was by far the nicest one we stayed at over the course of the trip. Even in spite of the kids’ disco that inexplicably ran into the early hours, a camp site with decent facilities makes all the difference, particularly when you’re unlikely to sleep indoors for another week and a half.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. Despite heavy traffic, and heavier rain meaning that we were delayed in getting to the city – and didn’t have time to explore, boo! – we met up with some friends in Freising, and got drunk Bavarian style with those guys, before crashing on their collection of couches and air beds.

It was a shame that the heavy rain and heavy traffic meant that we didn’t get to see a great deal of Germany, but the next day driving through Austria was completely different. Driving through the tunnels and mountains afforded us stunning scenery. And if the mountains themselves weren’t stunning enough, the Austrians have done a bit of decorating over the centuries, and adorned half of the mountaintops with magnificent castles. Who needs fantasy landscapes when this is the view from the motorway?

From there it was a flat out drive to Slovenia!

…with one stop. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. As we entered Slovenia through the mountains, the weather was at a balmy 27°C, the roads were steep and single-lane, and the brake discs began to let off smoke.

Now, this isn’t a good thing at any point, but at the top of a mountain, with at least a mile until the next place it’s possible to stop, in the blazing sun and a steep downhill road where the brakes will be needed constantly? That’s an issue. Eventually, though, we found a place to stop, and honestly, I can think of worse places.

Luckily, the stopping point was by a glacial river. Not that that helped a great deal; over an hour later, and after around 8 litres of icy cold water dumped on each brake disc, and water was still boiling on contact. Honestly, I think that if it has been a little further away, the van just wouldn’t have made it intact (or at least, the wheels wouldn’t).

Clearly the gods of metal were raising the sign of the hammer at us that day, because we made it to Metaldays, rather than Valhalla.


To be continued.

Handsfree Summer

The whole ordeal is over – more or less – which is marvellous news! It means that I can get back to work… sort of.

After almost four months with either a completely or partially useless right hand, rather a lot of things have started to slip. My typing speed, for one, has simply plummeted, and it’s going to take a lot of practise to get that back to anything like what it should be.

Other things are a bit ambiguous as to whether or not they are technically problems. See, my hand has broadly healed just in time for various trips and events that obviously eat into my writing time, though I’m not exactly the first in line to call these things “problems”.

Taking part in the Manchester Day parade, for example, was a lot of fun.

Not exactly a problem, per se (though my wings did keep getting caught in various things), but with a lot of preparation and recovery involved with marching several miles in the blazing sun pushing a giant phoenix float. Not something that leaves me a great deal of time and energy to get the writing show back on the (paper?) road.

And this was just a few days before the other big issue-but-not-issue; a week in Corfu with the girlfriend. Technically I’m claiming the amount of swimming done counted as part of my physiotherapy, because, well, it can’t have hurt, right? But living in Manchester, where summers are an endless procession of grey, miserable days, interspersed with the odd bright day that turns to rain the instant someone lights a barbecue, a little bit of guaranteed sun is required to not go mad. And who can argue with this?

So this leads me to the next predicament; Metaldays. In a week’s time, I embark on a ridiculous road trip through Europe, to a  7-day metal festival in Slovenia, and then back again. That’s another two weeks where writing will be… let’s say difficult, for various reasons, some of which aren’t even alcohol related.

So that’s seven days. Seven days to get as much work done as humanly possible.

It’s… it’s just not looking good, is it?

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