Posts Tagged With: reading

ScrapHappy September 2020: Illuminated Words

As with many of my ScrapHappy projects, this was a really simple idea that took ages to realise! As I have already mentioned on more than one occasion, my original Generation 3 Kindle became irreparable and was replaced by a Generation 2 model (earned through the medium of cheese-making). My Kindle cover has a built-in LED reading light, one that is powered off the Kindle itself – provided you use a Generation 3 model.

But if you could attach some some batteries…

My original plan was to use my non-patented bulldog clip battery holder (see here for the gory details) but with a smaller clip and smaller batteries. It was important that the cover still close once the batteries were fitted.

After three near misses between tiny button cells and my eyes, I decide to use slightly bigger batteries and some other holder. And then it hit me – and it wasn’t a button cell.

From one of the boxes of carefully stored bits and pieces came this – the circuit that was in a leaving card no less, one that made the sound of someone crying profusely every time it was opened**. 

Leaving Card Boo Hoo

I knew hanging on to this for a decade would pay off

I just needed to cut away the bits I didn’t need, reconfigure the holders so that there were in a straight line and that would be that…


In pieces…

I wired them such that the holders didn’t obstruct the page-turn buttons, and hey presto!


Checking they fit…


And then there was… a set of functional light emitting diodes


* Plan is a grandiose word here, vague idea is more accurate.

** Clearly the one which has the sound of someone breathing a sigh of relief was sold out.

Categories: recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

What’s in a… Name?

About to do the deed

Yeah! Go on! Call your first novel a non-existent word!

You look out your window, maybe for the first time since you started your magnus opus, maybe for the millionth (because that’s how it works with you). Your masterpiece is complete. Maybe it is a novel, a short story, a canvas depicting the adoration of the magi using emojis*; perhaps you have successfully created the first jam-filled round cake from spuds**.

Whatever your creative juices have poured over (ew!), one thing is certain: it needs a name.

As a round in one my favourite radio comedy programmes, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, repeatedly demonstrates, a good title is everything. Who would have read, let alone wrote a song about, a book called “Wuthering Hillocks”?

Would “Catch-22” be such a, well, catchy title if it had been called “Catch-18” as originally planned?

And what fool would call their first novel a title that was a made-up word? Well, OK, me, but that isn’t the point.

Certainly, you want to ensure that the name you give your novel/album/painting/sculpture/offspring is memorable, carries the general atmosphere of the thing you have created and will, if a literary or musical offering, at least fit on the cover.

So, spare a thought for fans (and indeed the graphic design artist) of Fiona Apple who decided to entitle her second album thus:

“When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right”

Strangely, fans refer to her second album as “When the Pawn…” or “her second album”.

But that isn’t the longest album title in the world, oh no. That honour (?) is held by Chumbawamba who called one of their outpourings:

“The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won”

Frequently referred to as “The Boy Bands Have Won”, the thing about this epic song-lyric-in-its-own-right-title is that it strikes me as being pretty much on the money.

My third novel is entitled “A Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” which is a pastiche of Pink Floyd’s first album name, itself taken from the title of chapter 7 of “Wind in the Willows”  by Kenneth Grahame.

So, there’ll be no problem fitting on the front cover. I hope.


* The Adoration of the E-Maji, obviously.

** Why would you do that, why, why?

Categories: Artist, BATDIG, General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

A Couple of Good Yarns

Both these yarns could be yours!

Both these yarns could be yours!

In a rush of blood to the head caused by turning too many cartwheels in celebration of completing NaNoWriMo this year and knitting for Wovember, the Snail and I are giving things away – yarn and a book, or possibly yarn and yarns (the same word, the latter use attributed to sailors telling stories whilst engaged in menial work such as yarn-twisting – hence ‘to spin a yarn’).

First there’s my book Kirkenes Blue: a gripping yarn of intrigue and deceit under the beauty of the Northern Lights. The perfect read for when you need a rest from all the knitting!

But that’s not all! There’s a ball of fabulous self-patterning 4 ply yarn. There’s 100g in the ball which is plenty to make a pair of socks and it’s 75% Merino wool so is lovely and soft, but with 25% synthetic fibre to make it hard wearing [please note: I have no idea what some of that means but the Snail wrote it, and she knows about that stuff, so it must be right].

If you want a chance to win this pair of yarns, simply leave a comment below; and if you want to double your chances, head over to thesnailofhappiness’s blog and leave a comment on her post about this give-away too.

We will send the package anywhere in the world and all comments left before the end of Sunday 6 December (UK time) will be included in the draw.

Good luck!


Categories: General silliness, Kirkenes Blue, NaNoWriMo, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

Spring is sprung!


BOING! Bluebells springing

…the grass is riz

I wonder where the boidies is

Some say the boid is on the wing

But that’s absoid

The wing is on the boid!

I remember my Dad reciting this to me on many an occasion (as, it turns out, do others – I assume it was their Dad, not mine – for example The Other Side of 55). For reasons that were never clear, he put on a New York accent so boid rhymed with void. Whatever accent you use, spring is most definitely here (well, in this hemisphere anyway), proving that the seasons are still turning albeit it in bizarre ways. I await snow in July to go tobogganing.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the springiness here in the south in my favourite place in Reading (after the cinema, pub and the restaurant) – the cemetery at Cemetery Junction. It’s a fascinating place and uses deer to graze the land. Finally, I have managed to capture a half-decent picture of one:

"This is my happy-go-lucky side"

“This is my happy-go-lucky side”

And hopefully our nest box at home in Wales will soon be ringing to the sound of baby blue tits.

Welcome back Spring!


Categories: General silliness | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Autumn Make You Think

Apples that are crabby

Apples that are crabby

Whilst I do like a bit of urban life, just like being awake, it isn’t something I want to do all the time. After many, many years of living in or close to tiny towns, I feel fully ruralised so to speak. Urbanity has, of course, its pros and cons, in all shapes, sizes and persuasions but they tend to be more obvious than in a rural setting.

As I write this, I am sitting in a surprisingly quiet spot in the middle of Reading, where the only thing I can here is a faint whisper of air-conditioning. I am in the cinema, awaiting the start of “The Giver”, scribbling away before the lights dim. Still being old-fashioned at heart and in homage to the effort that my parents put in to teach me, I am writing in one of my many notepads with a pen acquired from the hotel I stayed in a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Kate Bush (in concert rather than for dinner or a quick chat). I’ll transfer and edit it later in my flat. I suppose I could be typing direct into my tablet thingy now, but that just seems the wrong thing to be doing in a cinema, surrounded as I am by exactly, er, no-one else.

The unexpected peace gives me a welcome chance to mull over last weekend. Silence apart, a greater contrast you could not wish for. I went with thesnailofhappiness to Denmark Farm for their Cake and Craft afternoon. Although I did knit a square for the snail’s Masterpiece, I intended to do some different craft but also participate in some cake eating.

Mmm...plaited cake

Mmm…plaited cake

Denmark Farm has wonderful forest to walk in, allowing one to ponder everything from whether nature needs to be taken to task for starting Christmas even earlier this year:

Holly Prickles, er, Batman!

Holly Prickles, er, Batman!

to more esoteric things:

Inspiration from Nature #88: Viking Helmets

Inspiration from Nature #88: Viking Helmets

My intention (apart from cake eating) was to go to the wonderful roundhouse and have a think about stuff for my next novel, currently about 75% finished and not progressing. After about an hour of blackberry picking and photography, I did finally sit in the magical space that is the roundhouse, pen poised over notepad much as I am doing now. Around me, the sound of the season turning inspired me to… well, take a picture of the door into the roundhouse, because tilted over it looks like a face.

It's watching you...

It’s watching you…

I never said I was going to be grown-up about this, now did I? Then I realised something even more profound:

BoJo the Roundhouse

BoJo the Roundhouse

The roundhouse appears to be turning into Boris Johnson!

I hastily left and returned to the main centre for more cake. Imagination can be a curse sometimes!

Back to the present, and one other person has joined me. I just hope this film doesn’t require audience participation*…


* Turns out it didn’t. A better script perhaps…



Categories: Films, General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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