Internet Friendships

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Is there anything more unusual, or indeed as unlikely as an internet friendship? I prefer to think of the phenomena as being a classic Claytons situation. If you are wondering what I’m wittering on about, bear with me.

Years ago, in the nineteen-seventies, a southern hemisphere company whose name totally escapes me now, marketed a non-alcoholic beverage resembling bottled whisky in Australia and New Zealand, advertising it as the drink you have when you’re not having a drink, under the brand name Claytons.

The word soon entered the Australian and New Zealand vernacular. No matter whether you are an Aussie, or a kiwi like myself, we use it to describe all kinds of things that are obviously not what they seem. For example, a common-law couple might be described as having a Claytons marriage.

So, now you know. To me, an internet friendship is the kind you participate in when you are not participating in one. Or is it?

Strictly speaking, at best we can only ever say that we are acquainted with one another. To become true friends requires that we physically meet or have met at some time during our lifetimes, spending time together. Think about it.

All we have to go on when engaging via the internet, to help us decide if we like one another, are the totally sterile typed words on the screen in front of us, just like these ones. What we cannot do is pick up on each other’s tells, such as audible inflection, avoiding or making eye contact, etc, etc.

While we may enjoy reading what each other has to say, chances are that if we ever actually met we might find we have absolutely nothing in common, or worse, that we instantly dislike each other.

Yes, you can use applications like Skype or similar video call systems to contact one another, but all that does is let us see each other, warts and all, as well as putting an actual voice to someone we know through uploaded photographs and by what they type.

Even then there is no guarantee that we might actually want to meet. Take the use of our everyday speech patterns. Some people’s voices can, and do, get on your nerves. Especially if they are of the whining variety. Some people tend towards the endless use of expletives, seeing nothing wrong in peppering every sentence they utter with them.

In a way its a blessing that we are separated by the many miles between us. If we ever did actually meet, chances are that after we had sized one another up in the first thirty seconds, that one or both of us would turn on our heels and head back home. Humans are funny like that. Some would say that we can and do act irrationally when it comes to meeting one another for the first time. Remember, when we actually meet, we don’t just use our eyes and ears to size one another up. Our other senses along with our inbuilt intuition comes into play. A few thousand years ago it used to be known as our fear or flight response.

Our typed conversations hide a multitude of sins. For instance – it might be that one of us has a body odour problem. Or perhaps one of us is inclined to pick their nose. It might even be (god forbid) that one of us spits, or doesn’t use a hankerchief when clearing our nose! The point is, how would you or I know? We wouldn’t. No one would. And yet, despite all of that, we do become friends in the completely unfeeling world of the internet.

At best maybe what we are is the electronic twenty-first century equivalent of nineteenth and twentieth century pen pals, destined never to meet, but happy to communicate with one another, maybe not every day, but certainly several times each week.

PS – If memory serves, a glass of Claytons tasted positively foul – bleh! No make that double bleh!!

πŸ˜‰

I tell you, it’s a wonder I’m still here

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It’s hard to believe that I was born on this day, sixty-seven years ago. With everything that life has thrown at me since that day way back in nineteen forty-eight, it’s a wonder I’m still alive to tell the following tale.

***

When I was about ten months old, I had my first encounter with danger. Fortunately for me, when they realised I was missing from my pram, my parents searched the garden and eventually found me hanging in midair above the cold dark waters of the garden pond. All that was between me and death was a bit of barbed wire which had dug itself into the fleshy pad directly below my left thumb. Dad had put the wire up once I started crawling. Maybe that episode accounts for my later adventurous nature – who knows? I’ve still got the arrowhead shaped scar on my left hand. Mum said I wasn’t crying. Apparently I was just hanging there with not a care in the world.

Β 1_12_05_14_1_18_00 Then when I was five I was almost drowned yet again when a large Pike dug its teeth into one of my legs and began trying to drag me into deep water, when I was collecting frogspawn in the shallows of another pond on the farm to put in a jam jar. Fortunately I had mum’s small garden fork with me. I forget why. It was a long time ago. But it’s a good job I had taken it with me. Repeatedly stabbing the monster fish with it, made it let go of my leg. Those future tadpoles were hard won I can tell you.

In the nineteen-sixties came military service during the Vietnam war, where I was badly wounded, not once but twice.The next thing that hit me between the eyes was when I lost my beautiful Mai and our four month old son John, when the suburb where we lived in northern Saigon, was wiped off the face of the Earth, thanks to friendly fire, while I was up country on patrol.

A few years later came the first of three mental break downs, followed by being thrown on the employment scrapheap when I was fifty-five, and as a result, being made homeless; meaning I was forced to sleep rough for several months. As if all of that wasn’t enough I also suffer from skin cancer, a legacy of living beneath the hole in the ozone layer in the southern hemisphere for forty-two years. Its a wonder I’m still here, and yet I am.

Given all of that, is it any wonder I resorted to my first love, books, to console myself, which led me to write my own and much later, to blog? The written word has become everything to me, no matter whether or not my books are read. Fortunately for me they are.

As for why I’m still here – I’m a stubborn cuss. I’ve had to be. Anyone with a weaker disposition would have given up the ghost years ago. Not me. Now all I have to do is survive the next three years to reach my seventieth birthday.

Child’s play

πŸ˜€

Guardian Progress Report #7

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Damn it! Is this the guardian? You tell me.

Here we are again folks, with yet another progress report for my current WIP – The Guardian. It took me a while but I’ve finally got the core of chapter four sorted out. Meantime I’ve got a friend of mine in the US of A working on the cover. I gave him the details of what I am looking for. The emphasis for this one is stark simplicity. More about that later when he eventually gets back to me.

As far as I’m aware The Guardian cannot detect the relationship between my principal characters, Adler and Lynne. Which is probably just as well given the fact that either it is slowly developing, or going nowhere, depending on your point of view. One thing is undeniable, it’s definitely becoming complicated. Just to add a bit of spice to the situation, Lynne now has another admirer in the shape of Bayla, one of the three additional members of the team. Which one Lynne will chose I’m leaving entirely up to her. All I can do as her creator is to give her every opportunity to decide for herself. All I would say is this, if Adler truly wants her in his life, he had better watch out for his determined female rival in the battle for Lynne’s affections. As you might have guessed, I’m totally on Lynne’s side, and fiercely protective of her. If anyone messes with her, I promise you, I will dream up a horrible fate for them.

What can I tell you, each time I create a heroine, its inevitable that I will fall for her. You would too if she occupied your every thought while writing your latest WIP. I suppose that when it comes to it, I’m just another hopeless romantic. Then again, maybe I’m just insane. But what writer isn’t? What other occupation do you know of where you are reliant on the voices in your head?

Most men, myself included, aren’t mind readers. Consequently either we don’t get, or are completely oblivious to, the subtleties of feminine behaviour, feelings and emotions. In short ladies, unless Lynne spells it out for Adler…

So to do the tricky situation justice, I’ve had to try to tap into my feminine side, if I’ve ever had one in the first place that is, to see things from Lynne’s point of view. Not an easy thing for a mere male like myself. Whether or not I do a good job on her behalf, I’ll leave it for you to decide when you eventually read the novel. I’m about to put her in a compromising position by sending her off on a task Adler needs her to take care of, with Bayla watching out for her. Should be interesting considering Adler’s reaction to Lynne’s amorous advances at one point in chapter four.

Hmm, a thought has just occurred. I wonder why it is that my ideal woman, in this case Lynne, is the product of my fevered imagination? Perhaps you ladies can enlighten me. When it comes to your inevitable comments on the subject ladies, I beg you to be kind, not cruel to this old man.

At any rate, you will all eventually find out what happens when you read the book. Let’s just say at this early juncture that I have no immediate plans for whichever combination of the three I finally decide upon, to consumate the relationship. Hell, it might even become a mΓ©nage Γ  trois. It all depends on how they react, and how I feel about it.

Now to continue writing chapter five which I’ve already started, as if you didn’t know already LOL.

More later if your good.

πŸ˜‰

The Sixth Guardian Progress Report

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This is my creator’s eighth book in twenty years of slaving over a computer keyboard, so pay attention to what he has to say about it humans, or else!!!

Sorry about that, it can get a little tetchy at times, par for the course for something like The Guardian. Your all right, you don’t have to work with it on a daily basis. Now, before it comes back, read on…

***

I’m about to start writing chapter four. I’m more or less happy with the core of chapter three. As I said previously, I’ve begun to ramp up the action somewhat. I’ve also added a bit more for you to surmise about. I’m talking about the relationship, if you can call it that, between Lynne and Adler. I’ve decided to add one of the three new characters – Brett, Cliff and Bayla, into the mix as a possible rival for Lynne’s affections if Adler doesn’t declare his feelings for her one way or another. Which one of them it is, and why, you will just have to find out when you read the novel won’t you. It might be that a love triangle develops – only what I’m thinking at the time will determine what happens between Lynne and Adler. I’m still undecided about that situation at the moment.

I’ve also introduced a few items that they need to protect themselves like LSAT Assault Rifles and the XM25 air burst grenade launcher, as well as the M110 Sniper Rifle, all of them actual weapons, but still under development and testing at the moment, plus C4 plastic explosive, fragmentation grenades and Claymore mines. Even though the story is set in the twenty-second century, twentieth century explosives like C4 and the highly effective Claymore mine, still have their uses in the eyes of my team of ex military personnel.

Meanwhile The Guardian is always somewhere, waiting, watching, hatching plans, and now keeping its eye not only on me, but you too. I beg you, for my sake be careful not to upset it. It is gradually becoming more involved, making its presence felt, not only to me, but also as the story unfolds. Now its time for more thinking. I most certainly don’t want to get on its wrong side by taking some time off for myself now do I.

More later

πŸ˜‰

“Man, the novella I’m working on is so emotionally draining.”

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What we’re talking about here is one writer’s admission that whether she realises it or not, she is finally getting totally inside the heads of her characters. She is a dear friend from across the pond in the US State of Kentucky.

She said to me recently while we were chatting on Facebook, “man, the novella I’m working on is so emotionally draining.” To which I replied, “Congratulations, you are finally allowing your characters to take you over.” Meaning that in effect she has stopped trying to dictate what her characters get up to, by following a preconceived plan, to become a reporter of her character’s every move as they write the story for her.

Untill you as the writer first get to know and believe in your characters, no matter whether they are good or bad, how can you possibly expect your readers to do the same thing when they read your book? In a lot of cases these days, so many characters in books are one dimensional to the point where I have to wonder why the author of the book included them in the first place. In other words, unless you invest all of you’re time and energy in your main characters, in effect they are nothing more than peripheral to the story. The concept cannot be taught no matter what some may say. To achieve it you have to allow the story to write itself. Yes it is emotionally exhausting. That’s the way it should be for the author of any book.

My friend has finally emerged from the chrysalis stage of her career, to become the writing equivalent of a beautiful butterfly. In other words, a fully fledged writer.

I’m so proud of you Mysti Parker, so very proud. πŸ˜€ xx

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Click on Mysti’s picture to go to her Amazon page

 

 

There Is Nowt Queerer Than Folk

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People in general are probably the most complicated, dangerous, confusing, annoying, tiresome, argumentative, frustrating, angry, illogical, emotional and idiotic creatures roaming this planet of ours. Don’t even get me going on the differences between the genders…

To begin with, the greater majority of mankind believes in some form of non existant all powerful entity. Why? What’s wrong with standing on your own two feet? To any logical thinking being, any form of religion makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Where is this all powerful being when we need them the most, like when we are involved in a war, or are suffering a family crisis? Nowhere, that’s where! So why bow down to them? It makes no sense at all.

Religion is hardly peaceful or benevolent, despite everything its devotees preach. Each religion believes it is the only true one, conning its faithful into thinking that all the others are unbelievers to be destroyed! I’ve lost count of the number of wars that were, and still are, being fought in its name – an ugly trait of those who still believe that they are still the masters of all mankind. It seems that we can’t get through a single century without declaring war on each other. Once again, why is that? In the days of yore the common people were given no choice in anything. Once upon a time we were ruled by Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Earls, Barrons and tribal Chieftains. What they decreed simply happened.

I’ve got news for you people. These days we do have a choice, despite what our political and religious leaders may say. Our politicians, backed by the more fantical religions, have taken over from any kind of royalty, prosecuting wars in other lands like there is no tomorrow, usually because those countries are oil rich. While we can’t do much about the religious fanatics, except ignore them, every few years we do get the chance to vote out the political party that is annoying and frustrating us the most. The real trouble is that instead of thinking first, many simply give their vote to a specific political party because that’s the way their family members and them have always done it. In my own case, I usually vote for the Labour party. Why do I do that? Habit, pure and simple!

More and more these days people simply don’t bother to vote, believing that their one vote won’t make any difference. Total rubbish!

With barely a fortnight to go, the good people of Scotland will get the chance to vote, either for independence from the rest of the UK, or to maintain the status quo. This is a historic moment in the history of these islands. The Scots won’t get another chance like this in the forseeable future. The political pundits and polls suggest that both sides of the argument, for and against, are about even. When have polls and pundits ever got anything right when it comes to elections, or in this case, probably the most important referendum that Scotland will vote on?

Since the Jacobites were beaten in the eighteenth century, ending any previous thoughts of Scots’ independance, the proud nation has been nothing more than a vassal state of England. Despite all of the scaremongering and threats from the UK parliament, personally I hope that Scotland achieves it dream to break away from the houses of parliament, otherwise known as Westminster, once and for all.

Role on the eighteenth of September…

Then and Now

I was having a conversation with my good friend Jamie Boswell, here in my home town yesterday. His brother Duncan (the man responsible for the superbly executed map of Goblindom in my fantasy anthology Globular Van der Graff’s Goblin Tales for Adults and his girlfriend are soon off to New Zealand, the land I love, for a few weeks. Like most young people operating on a budget, when it comes to seeking a bed for the night, they plan to find a cheap hostel for the first few days they are there. And so I suggested to Jamie that he might mention they utilize the YHA hostels that pepper both of the main islands (North and South) that go to make up the bulk of the country.

Like a lot of people these days, Jamie hadn’t heard of the Youth Hostel Association, despite it being a worldwide organisation. And so I hunted out my life membership card to show him. On opening it, a ghost from the past stared back at me from a grainy 1 x 1/2 ” passport style photograph.

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Me aged twenty-six in 1974, a lifetime ago.

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Compare that to me today in 2020 now almost seventy-two – almost… A lot has happened in the intervening forty six years, not all of it good.

Ah the ticking of time…Β  πŸ˜‰

Totally Incomprehensible Acts

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There is an unwritten understanding that all self-published writers will help each other out however they can. For my part I use this blog from time to time to pass on my own experiences in this bitchy world we all inhabit – aka, the world of publishing. I also try to make people aware of other writers who also have a blog by creating a link to their posts via the medium of the reblog. From time to time I offer positive comments on their posts in support. I don’t have to do it. It’s just in my nature to want to help others…

Yesterday, through our mutual friend The Storyreading Ape, I saw another post that cried out to be reblogged to make it known to those of you who follow my blog. Because I totally agreed with its sentiments, I also left a comment. Then I received the following from the writer concerned:

“Thank you for reblogging my post. However I deleted your comment because I find it extremely offensive when people shorten my name without asking permission. My name is ………; and I clearly indicated that I go by ….. In the future, please respect a writer by using their given names unless otherwise indicated. Thank you.”

To say I was totally taken aback would be an understatement!

Because of that childish outburst, simply because I used the first part of their double barrel Christian name instead of the second part as they insisted, like you I can only assume that they are not only wholly insecure but also deeply ungrateful for my wishing to help publicize both them and their blog. Once I got over the writer’s irrational outburst, I immediately deleted the reblog of their post as well as blocking their blog from my list of Blogs I Follow. You will note that to prevent the writer being embarrassed or harrassed for their incomprehensible act I have deliberately left out any reference to them, their blog and the post in question.

As writers we all need to embrace positive public relations. Clearly the writer in question either doesn’t realize this, or they have decided that they don’t need to avail themselves of it, taking the totally misguided view that their talent alone will ensure their success as a writer. This particular writer obviously needs to reassess their attitudes. All writers need allies and friends, especially other writers…

When is a friend not a friend?

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Answer – when interacting with people on any given social media site.

The Oxford English Dictionary clearly defines a friend thus – a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Or, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.To achieve that requires two people physically meeting one another.

None of the above can be applied to the people we meet on social media sites like Facebook, or on our blogs come to that. At best the interaction we have with one another can only be described as clinically disembodied. Whatever possessed Mark Zuckerburgh to use the word ‘friend’ when he and his team decided early on what to call the online connections the vast majority of us engage in, when clearly they can never become anything more than acquaintanceship’s at best?

True friends are hard to come by. They are people you have known and spent time with for the greater majority of your life. They are the people who will drop everything to physically be there for you when you most need help. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot react in the same way. Unless you go online stating what is wrong in a given set of circumstances, they would never know. Plus at best all they can do is sympathize, and wish you well!

True friends drop in for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee once in a while. Do your social media ‘friends’ do that? Are they physically and financially capable of traveling to where you live, wherever it may be across the world? When you are ill true friends come round to where you live to do what they can to alleviate your pain and discomfort. It is a fact that true friends can never do enough for each other. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot. How can they? As far as I am aware, teleportation via our computers has not yet become available. The closest we can get is by using a facility such as Skype!

Thanks to people like Zuckerburgh and others, the whole concept of friendship has become devalued to the point where, God forbid, it may become the norm in the not to distant future! Then there is another point to make here, while we may enjoy ‘chatting’ online with someone, should we actually meet would we actually like one another? Remember this, at no time during a ‘chat’ with someone online can you physically read them.

Face it folks, there is no substitute under the sun for actually meeting someone in the flesh and getting to know them. While you may like what you see on your screen, no amount of typed words in an email, or in Facebook’s case, its ‘chat’ facility, can ever replace that. On any given social media site, all we can ever do is read the words before us on our computer or smart phone screens.

So, to sum up, the only people we can truly call friend on any given social media site are those we have actually met during our lifetimes…