Sunday, 11 October 2015

What happened to the 10th?

I don't know.  Anyway, today the magic item arrived.  I cannot speak of it in anything other than hushed tones.  I have high hopes for it.  It shall be kept in a discreet place etc.  I have also implemented a points system to measure productivity.  World, here I come!    

Friday, 9 October 2015


Yeah, we had a really successful induction yesterday and then it was just totally flat like we'd said everything there is to say.  Like meeting your soulmate and then getting bored of them.

Mind you, I was completely whacked.  I had walked to Westwood and back feeling nauseous and generally under the weather and I went to bed early.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Watching this space

I went to bed early Tuesday evening with fluey symptoms and was in bed for most of yesterday.  However, I did get a message from someone on OKCupid who had responded to my 'like' and we ended up having a long conversation about ghosts, NDEs and her hobby, being an Elf rock star, amongst other things.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


I'm 40 years old...Taking stock, I note the following.  

1.  I live in a mice infested bedsit.
2.  I am 1500 pounds in the red on my MasterCard.
3.  My income barely feeds me, let alone pays off credit cards.
4.  There is nothing on the horizon.

Just been to China and I'm glad I went but the overall experience was about learning about the gulf between how I imagine things will be and how they inevitably are.  My last night in Hohhot I was alone and the big 40th celebration in Xi'an was neither big nor much of a celebration.  Seeing the plight of Nana,  the disabled girl I occasionally visit, reminded me temporarily to feel less sorry for myself.  

Nonetheless, I have a plan.  Four days into my forties and no sexual intercourse as yet but plans I say are hovering in my Mac's hardware on a small file called 'Sex Plan'.  If it becomes relationship plan then that is all well and good but I don't want to get ahead of myself.  

Put simply it's a three prong scheme involving improved income, exposure and appearance but the fine details I would rather keep under wraps.

Watch this space, as they say.  

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Eyes Wide Shut

I watched Eyes Wide Shut for the first time last night.  I'd not been in a hurry to see it after the lukewarm reviews it got but I was pleasantly surprised.  In some ways I think Kubrick is overrated- his stories are quite weak- but then again there is just something about the way his films are made that makes them interesting to watch.  The only director I can think of that exists at a similar level is David Lynch. 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Same forecast

Well not unless you call looking for Hohhot's red light district on Tencent Street View positive... 

I was kind of wowed by this find and went for a wander around Hohhot and Bayuquan yesterday and today.  I should be revising but I can't help doing things like searching for the best mash up combinations I can think of on YouTube.
James and I also talked about the 'Shakespeare' interview; "Or should I say Nellie?"  James said.  We're both a little bit sceptical about this one.  


Friday, 29 May 2015

Another inert day

The same old addictions.  Internet, internet, internet and Coco Pops.  Anxiety too about my upcoming 'Work Programme', job prospects- the prospect of being stuck in a job I hate- my inability to get my head down and REVISE.  I'm trying to think of something I've done today that is positive.  I'll let you know tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Busy but not productive

I'm supposed to be revising but today I've mainly been preoccupied with Erik and the celebrities he tees up for Jamie to channel.  This morning I sent Brian May a link to this alleged 'Freddie Mercury' interview, spent ages wrapping a parcel that I had to take back home back home anyway because it was 120 g too heavy, had a wank, listened to the 'J.F.K' interview with Elisa Medhus and sent Elisa some feedback on the 'Shakespeare' interview she posted today.  I didn't say anything to upset her, because I imagine she's quite sensitive, but I wasn't blown away by it.  It's not the usual medium, Jamie, who seems to be the real deal or a genius and it shows.  As I said to her, Jamie's encounters have a tone, syntax and naturalness to them and the voice of the personality shines through.

I should perhaps note that to me it's not as simple as, Jamie is fake or the person the other end of the line is real.  There could be other options like this is a personality simulated by advanced technology in another dimension or things I can't imagine.  I dig the messages that are coming through, anyway.  J.F.K's advice about taking responsibility and being the change you want to see (he acknowledged it was a quote from Ghandi) to the person on the bus or in line really resonated with me because this is what my life is.  It's not glamorous, it comes down to these people here in Margate I feel no connection with, who I'm not that interested in and who aren't interested in me.  But if not them, then who?  As J.F.K reminded me, there is a story in every pair of eyes.

My bit today, I exchanged a couple of sentences with a human being, noting that the librarian usually worked at Westgate.  She said yes, but I work here on occasion.  End of conversation. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Making the day count

On Oct 3rd I'll be launching James 2.0.  The healthier, wealthier and wiser James, the kinder, more responsible, more proactive version.  In order to make sure I hit the ground running for my 40th I'm trying to get everything in place before then.  Things as they stand look pretty bleak or even quite wonderful, depending on how one looks at it.  I think a lot, including my mother, would be quite condemnatory. Judging by the last time I had sex, the rest of the opposite sex are equally unimpressed.  Me, I don't know.  I don't know where it's all going.  A book deal, an album, a trip around the solar system or slow decline in bedsit land.

At least I have experience on my side... 

This morning I went to a volunteer induction at Dreamland, which is opening on June 19th.  There were about thirty of us at least- they had a job finding enough chairs-and a good cross section.   A break dancer who reminded me of Richard Priory, an ex prison-officer, a few epileptics, a Polish woman and a supply teacher called James (not me).  They rolled on the paid Dreamlanders, and the head of Entertainment, a thesp 40 years young, bounced round telling us that the volunteers were more valuable than they were.  Then they waltzed out the dark and draughty old cinema we were sat in, whooping and hollering and probably quite thrilled that they weren't volunteers.

Although we were made to feel like individuals nobody asked what I could do so I had a word with one of them who directed me to the website.  When I got home I duly sent my CV with possibly the best covering letter written in Margate this year. 

I had a couple of exchanges on WeChat with James, telling him that I have a plane ticket and a plan to be in China for my birthday.  He kindly offered to put me up.  Then I had a siesta in the afternoon to make up for not getting my eight hours.  I tend to have unpleasant dreams during this time and I met a very unpleasant aggressive person who appeared to utterly hate me.  The strange thing was, this was basically me staring into the depths of my subconscious.

This afternoon I went down collect some mail from the mail office in Union Street.  I noticed a young, heavily tattooed man crouching down by a girl on the steps of the Salvation Army church.  He called to me so I stopped and he told me a story about his dog being attacked and having no electricity.  I went to collect my mail and then came back and had a look at the dog, a pitbull which was bleeding badly behind the ear and appeared to have a wound that needed stitches. I suggested calling the RSPCA as he had no money but he said they'd take the dog away from him.  Good point.

I said we'd need to go to the cash machine but when the dog followed us, he started limping.  I suggested he carry the dog and he told me he wasn't being rude but he knew his dog, which was fine and was actually about to break into a sprint (or words to that effect).  But in fact the dog carried on limping.  He and his girlfriend followed me down to Morrisons and waited whilst I did a very quick shop so I could get some cashback.  When I handed him some taxpayer's cash (i.e my benefit money) for his electricity his dog jumped at me and started barking.  Then his girlfriend started telling the dog off, but of course he was trying to protect her.

I crossed the road and just on the corner of the square a woman asked me "You haven't got a quid, have yer?"  I came over all very middle class.

"Sorry, I haven't." And I really hadn't so fortunately I didn't have to go through the anguish of saying no and feeling guilty or being a quid poorer.  The woman didn't seem to mind, which was nice. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Short cuts

I’ve been working in a charity shop in Margate since February.  It’s quite busy but there’s enough downtime to think and I’ve been using the time to tap poetry into my phone.  I’ve been thinking that working in a charity shop is not enough to salve my conscience and I’m toying with the idea of joining the Red Cross first aid division, if they’ll have me.  The thought fills me with the fear of boredom.  Being stuck in a tent somewhere at some family event clock watching.  So it’s probably going to be toyed with for quite a bit longer but I think I need to get a busier in my life because having free time is slowing me down so much I can’t seem to do anything.  I know I’ve talked about this before but it really is a peculiar phenomenon that fascinates me.  Existence has been cleverly designed.  There are no short cuts.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Betfair sales drive

Kathy: Hi James! Kathy here from Betfair Casino Team. How are you doing?

Kathy: I'm here to help you claim your 200% Welcome Bonus via promotions page when you deposit and buy in with at least £20. How does that sound?

10828375: Not very good.

10828375: But thanks.

Kathy: Oh, may I ask why for feedback purposes?

10828375: I imagine that it needs to be wagered so many times the chances of retaining the deposit are small.

Kathy: I understand that you are hesitant of the requirement, however, your bets will be counted whether win or lose and you have 1 full week to fulfill it, James.

10828375: Reading inbetween the lines, you seem to be agreeing with me.

10828375: Bets being counted and time to fulfill are irrelevant and I think you know that.

Kathy: the requirement is 7 times, players think that it's hight but I have players who were able to collect winnings from the bonus, James.

Kathy: *37

10828375: Yes, that's the nature of gambling.

Kathy: Yes, that's correct, the bonus will you additional funds to play longer in the casino, you make bets and play as normal.

Kathy: You'll never know, you were able to complete the requirement already.

10828375: I'll never know but it won't keep me awake at night that I didn't.

10828375: Well done for trying Kathy

10828375: I know you get commission for a sale but I'm a tough cookie

Kathy: Alright, no pressure, James. I'm here to give out options but I respect your decision.

10828375: Thank you and have a nice evening.

Kathy: Have a good night too and try to download Betfair Casino App on your mobile and play games anywhere!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

My part in Southampton's rise

My inability to back winning teams has been turned to good use with a near flawless weekend.  On balance, arguably my best result for the first match, which gave me 17 to re-invest, my best for the second, which put Southampton back in third and a measly point for Liverpool, who I showed some respect by investing 12 of my 17 to win (I had money to burn). The other 5 went into a new Coral account and Coral give new customers a 20 pound free bet on top, so I put 25 on Man U to win, which brought my total bet on them to 33 pounds.  They drew with West Ham, which put Southampton in third and all their serious competitors trailing behind.

I've since opened a Skybet account, which gives 20 pounds to play with if you bet 5.  So I've put 5 of my money on West Ham to beat Southampton at 4/1 and the free 20 on Spurs at 3/1. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A second bite of the cherry?

Seriously, I think not.  Probably me scratching myself.

I wouldn’t go up against the inevitable dominance of the house edge if it wasn’t in the service of my team.  I never win anything big, neither do Southampton, can we both lose?  Having won 35.75 with the 13.50 free money Betfred gave me I considered cashing out but figured there isn’t really much I want to buy for 35 quid, I’d rather add a fiver and re-invest.  The idea is to bet on teams that damage Southampton’s prospects; the greater the threat the more money.  I put 17.75 on Arsenal to win 39.05 (inc. stake) at 6/5.  Tottenham sit lower down the table and therefore a win from them is less harmful, so I put a smaller stake on them, 5 at 12/5 to win 17.00.  Ideally, I want both teams to draw and only pick up a point each and so I haven’t bet on this outcome.  I want Man U to lose so I’ve bet 8 on them to win 16 odds on.  A Man U draw or a loss would be considered a good result from Southampton’s perspective.  I want Southampton to win outright against QPR, a draw is not very useful, so I’ve bet 5 on a draw at 13/5 to win 18.00 and 5 on QPR at 7/2 to win 22.50.  From a financial point of view my worst case scenario is an Arsenal/Tottenham draw, a Man U draw or loss and a Southampton win.  By no means unfeasible.  But that would put Southampton back in third above Man U, a fantastic result and worth the outlay- a mere 5.00 of my actual money, depending on how you look at it.  (Forget Man City.  They have broken away and any slip would be a blip.  What’s more, the 2/11 odds are poor value IMHO).  The worst result for Southampton would be a loss for them and a win for Man U and Arsenal.  Even then, their position in the table would be quite good and financially I’d be looking at 77.55 in the bank to help me drown my sorrows.  If results go with the favourites then you would expect a Man U win, an Arsenal win and a Southampton win.  55,05 in the bank.  Can you believe it, I’d actually be in profit with a Southampton victory?  Of course, there are 3 possible results in a football match and though EVS on Man U looks to me to be a very sweet deal (say you bet 100, you get your stake plus 100 back) the number crunchers must know the odds of a draw or West Ham win are in fact higher.  So the two unlikely outcomes combined are greater than the one likely one.  A mediocre result would be Southampton draw, Man U draw, Spurs/Arsenal draw.  I’d lose almost half my total outlay with no progress at all for Southampton.
The way I’m talking, you’d think I was A, good at maths, B a seasoned gambler.  I’m neither.  I’m a wildcard and  I’ll be chucked back into oblivion very soon.  Another thing, if I were a professional I would have cashed out and scoured the internet looking for the bookies offering the best odds on the particular teams I wanted to bet on.  One bookie might give you better odds on Arsenal, another Man U.  No supermarket has all the best deals on all products, one stop shop betting is also a folly, I would think.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Alien abduction?

First, a boring observation about the weather.  It was -3 this morning, which is about as cold as it gets in Margate, really.  Snow is forecast for Tuesday and Thursday.  My four hour shift at Sense was made bearable by Imogen helping out when large queues built up but they're taking the stabilisers off in 2 weeks and I have to ride 2 wheels.  Nice girl (or woman I suppose, about my age but dressed young) called Vicky asked me what I did in my spare time.  Told her I wrote, said she'd like to read my story but later we had an awkward conversation about shoelaces and she said "I have no idea what you're talking about" when I asked her how she does hers and if they were uncomfortable like that because on her converse style trainers she had the bows tucked down the side.  Is what I was driving at rocket science?  I just made it worse the more I tried to manifest what it was I meant.  The pleasant surprise of her asking me what I did in my spare time almost the moment I met her was exactly cancelled out by the failure of that conversation.   That was the highlight and lowlight of my day.  This post has been like a news report backwards, starting with the weather, then other news.  Back to our main headline, today I discovered two light scratch marks on my arm and a small red mark... 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Well done Gary tho'

Did I cheer when Swansea won?  Thankfully I was quite depressed. 

Gambling awareness

So the one hour training session at Sense charity shop for the deaf and blind went reasonably well.  I had trouble opening a carrier bag, I may have not folded an item of clothing perfectly, but it was a reasonably unruffled slice of a day.  I walked in on an argument between a (very) disgruntled staff member and other staff, a customer dropped a pound and spent a few minutes looking for it to no avail and there was a slightly prickly moment between my shadow and the boss.  She said
"It's like talking to a brick wall," when my shadow had apparently forgotten that she will be shadowing me on Monday and my shadow (can't remember her name) replied "Don't you dare" or some such thing.  I was glad when my hour was up.  Enough drama for one day.

Speaking of fun and games, these days betting shops have signs foisted upon them- like 'Stop when the fun stops', which they have to put in their front window.  I hope I can remember this because I've come up with a fun little scheme? When I signed up with Betfred a few months ago they gave me some free money to play with.  I think perhaps I put ten pounds in and they doubled it.  Anyhow, I had thirteen pounds of unclaimed money so...with Southampton sitting pretty but threatened by the resurgence of the big boys (Spurs, Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal) my thinking is this.  Bet 6.50 on a draw at 3/1 and 6.50 on a Swansea win at 11/5 and I can't lose.  My team either moves back into third above Man U or I win comfortably.  And if Southampton do win, the odds for a QPR victory will be even better next week.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I believe I can fly

Stop press.  I have been offered a new job working on the 'til at a charity shop in Margate. More to follow...

Monday, 12 January 2015


There is this view of football...

And I can see where he's coming from. I take his point that football is really just a ball being kicked about a field and if you were to stand in a pub and listen to a conversation week in week out month in month out year in year out most of it would sound the same.  There is an aspect of it being like the same record played over and over and I can certainly take it or leave it. But still there is an interesting metaphor in football that has attracted me of late.  In football the performance of a human being (and a team) is scrutinized far more than mine is or- chances are- yours.  Every pass, every tackle, every assist, every goal and in a manner of speaking, every blade of grass covered: as work rate is measured too.  And footballers are given every chance to improve.  They have coaches and physios and dietary specialists and probably psychologists too.  Every possible method of getting an extra inch out of a team simply to beat another team that is trying to beat them.  Surely the team that wins is not the important thing.  It's being the best you can be.  Ultimately, you play against yourself.  This whole football thing has got me thinking.  What if I lived my life like a footballer?  What if I ate the right food, achieved peak fitness, had an Alex Ferguson equivalent motivating me, scolding me, guiding me in my career.  What might I achieve?  In some senses footballers get something that ordinary individuals don't get.  They get a level of focus that can turn someone not using their time wisely or to best effect into the best version of themselves.  Some children get that from their parents.  Most don't.  But still, in football we are reminded that every little helps.  And I'm toying with the idea of preparing for the launch of a new James.  James 2.0 when I am 40.  He doesn't take drugs, he exercises, he flosses, he uses to do lists, keeps accounts, takes vitamins, goes to bed early, gets up early...Sounds like a midlife crisis?  Manning up?  Typical 40 year old behaviour?

I was supposed to be writing about Man U vs Southampton watched at the Barnacles pub but I wrote this instead.    

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Hohhot Shock Glasgow Film Shoot

Shortly before I left Glasgow and its charms behind Dave asked me if I got what I wanted from the trip, filming wise.  Yes and no.  The main thing is I have footage, courtesy of actors giving me their time for nothing.  But the very nature of this amateur project has imposed severe limitations on its production values.  Limitations that seem to threaten the viability of the film, as well as enhance its creativity.  Here are some examples.  First, it's been shot predominantly on mobile phones with no lighting or film crew.  Second, the actors mostly didn't have time to learn their lines or rehearse. Third, many scenes were filmed in a big hurry, some not even completed.  In many cases, the actor says their line after it's just been told to them off camera.  Not ideal.  And also, funny stuff has happened like the lead supporting actor dropping out, me having to leave China, the lead female not wanting to show her face.  Sounds romantic but the footage and the hastily recorded ADR (sometimes one take, incomplete) is a dog's breakfast and has not been all that enjoyable.  It's just that I keep telling myself that I can fix it all in editing and post production.   And seeing that happen will be fun.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Sent from the outskirts of London

Another brief message on the fly, as I'm on a National Express to Scotland. Day was mainly consumed getting ready for said trip. Also critted a story about a horse on Fiverr and rushed to the Post Office parcel office to pick up one of Dave's hilarious presents. Packing was still to the wire, tho.  I'm annoyed at myself for leaving fresh celery behind. Twas ever thus with me and celery...Anyway the next 3 days are going to be busy. That will make writing a challenge but one I shall not shirk.  Not for all the Nessies in Loch Ness .

Friday, 2 January 2015

I would like to say something but...

My Internet is down and i'm typing this on my phone. Another chilled day. 2 t-shirts from Cats in Crisis, dancing on my own to music I like and hand washing. Plus a lot of daydreaming.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

So this is 2015

I started 2015 determined to honour my resolutions (MAKE THE DAY COUNT) and jumped out of bed as soon as the dulcet tones of my S5 alarm tune sounded.  But in no time at all I was engaged in a typical wild goose chase/tangent.  This time wasting hours studying the anatomy of a Glasgow accent on Youtube; a tangent which in itself contained another of me just watching Glasgow comedy and short films.  (I liked ‘Voices’, with Sean Biggerstaff. ) I won’t be needing an accent for the filming I’m doing in Glasgow, which is standing in for Hohhot, anyway. I just thought it would be nice to impress my Canadian friend with wry observations in the local brogue, like:

“It’s nae Shakespeare country 'round here, it’s Robert Burns all the waaaay.”  (I’m not sure if Robert has any connection with Glasgow).

A Canadian friend who, incidentally, has been to a little city called Hailar.  And that brings me on to some news, which I actually started the day with.  My story ’Tears in Hailar' has been shortlisted for the Oxygen short story prize.  My first thought was mild disappointment because that incarnation of it is already ancient history; it has some niggling flaws in it that I’ve since fixed.  But that’s showbiz folks.  Overall it will be good- I think?- because after a few months of entering competitions it seems I’ve hit my stride and the plan to get into writing first through winning or being short listed in a competition is now on track.  I just to have keep laying more track, with the help of competitions like this.  I’m quite sincere when I say I think it will be placed 10th because I’m sure the judges are awarding the overall merit of the story but will have spotted it lacks finesse.  A cliché here, an inconsistency there, lacking in description.  I know, I know.  What I’m saying is, I’m already getting my coat…

I should mention this blog whole entry is really written-not because of a desire to gloat about modest success with a story but out of acknowledgment that self-promotion is a side of the game that I may need to play.    I’ve been asked for photograph, biography and my website address and confirmation that my mum’s Chihuahua didn’t help me with a few lines of the story.  And there I have a problem.  I don’t have a website.  I don't have a properly managed blog.  I have 4 half awake ones that I occasionally post to- the main one being my China blog, which is now gathering dust- and this is one of them.

And that reminded me that if I'm serious about this writing malarkey I've got to write to promote my writing.   It's now one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post every day.  I’m going to write a Margate blog about stuff I overhear or have something to say about going on there and I’m going to talk to myself on here.  Thanks so much to Tracey and Simon West.