Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sandwiched between a Wonderbra and a Knitted Orgasm ...

... is where my poem "Since I Have Had Children" has found its home. I'm chuffed to bits to be included in this anthology - The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse edited by Eileen Jones. I keep dipping into it when I should be doing other things (like writing more poems) and every time I do I think "Oh yes, that's the bit I'll quote in my blog ... or maybe that bit ... or ..."

So instead of simply transcribing the entire book, I'm going to just choose two with the old poke a pin at it technique - NOT MY FAVOURITES - I DON'T DO FAVOURITES - THEY'RE ALL A HOOT! - in the hopes of enticing you in for yourself.

Fluffy Weighs in on the Baby by Melissa Balmain

It's hairless as an egg:
Why bother petting that?
It doesn't purr or groom your leg,
And yet you feed the brat.

Instead of catching mice,
It grapples with its socks.
It's never taken my advice
To use the litter box.

It can't climb up a tree,
It can't chase balls of string,
It leaves you zero time for me -
Just eat the wretched thing.

and Sung Dynasty by Sean O'Brien

My lover tells me that when autumn comes
He will fashion me a boat of cherry blossom:
There's no way I'm getting into that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Train of Thought Derailment

I love trains - I've said so before - how wonderfully fruitful a peaceful stretch of writing time train travel can provide. But sometimes I really hate being stuck on a train. When the amply endowed lady sits beside (and partially on) me. The one with nothing to read. The one who is going to bludgeon me with chat, all complaints and cliches, till my ears bleed. Oh please, no, oh no ...

Lady (after sighing pointedly a number of times, which I ignore, trying to quell my growing dread): I always eat on trains - it's because I get so bored.
Me: Ah? I always bring work to do on trains. (wave sheaf of papers, smile politely, try to go back to work.)
Lady: (randomly) You can't trust computers ... (long story follows about how she thinks somebody stole her bank details from a computer once and now she only pays cash for everything)
Me: Ah? (return to paragraph and re-read it AGAIN desperately trying to concentrate)
Lady: And nobody gives their seats up for old people any more. Except on buses. Young men on buses. They stand up. (long story follows about the way young girls don't stand up. Though perhaps on buses they do.)
Me: Ah. Oh.
Lady: (suspiciously) Is that work you're doing?
Me: (hopeful that the penny has dropped) Yes! Yes, I'm working.
Lady: What do you do?
Me: (stupidly) I'm a writer.
Lady: Jilly Cooper's a writer. I don't know where she gets her ideas.
Me: (in the spirit of grasping nettles) I don't have so much trouble with ideas. More with having enough time to get the writing done. That's why I always work on trains. (Hopeful smile - wave paper - resolutely make meaningless mark in the margin to look as if I am, indeed, at work)
Lady: I don't know where you get your ideas. What did you say your name was? I've never heard of you. Have you ever been to Ireland? I was going to Ireland on a holiday but they wanted to get money from me off a computer, so I'm going on a bus.
Me: (thinks) I wish I'd gone on a bus ...

I would pay good money - by computer or in cash - for a cloak of invisibily and a cone of silence. To use on trains. Please, please, could somebody invent them soon?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Family Legends

This is a new project by the Scottish Book Trust - have a look here and see if you fancy having a go!

A call went out a few weeks ago for some pre-launch examples of Family Legends and I wrote a piece called The Long Shadow about my mother's father. If you'd like to read it, click here! I'd like to thank my cousin Mary Beth, who is our family's genealogist, for her help - and I'm really sorry I didn't get a chance to fix the fact that the Chinese guys I called barons were in fact warlords. So, when you get to that bit, just change it in your mind, okay? Virtual editing - excellent!

Cheers, Joan.

Friday, October 08, 2010


It is my great pleasure today to announce the Winner and Runner-up of the Slightly Jones Art-y-fact Drawing Competition (otherwise known as The September Challenge). First Prize goes to

***** Katherine (age 10) of Broughty Ferry *****

And a very close Runner-up Prize goes to

***** Sofia (age 10) of Edinburgh *****

Well done! To see their winning entries, and to find out more about the Slightly Jones Detective Team (and The October Challenge), click here!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tune That Name

Today I'm over on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, speculating on the naming of things. Well, of characters, mostly. Come and see - there's a nice photo of a Swiss rose!