Remember a couple of days ago when I did the whole "I wonder what it would be like owning a boat and using it as a base to write from" thing? Well, I absolutely have not been down to the harbour to look at boats and see what size of boat might suit such a purpose.

Absolutely nowhere near. Honest.

I still have no idea what a boat costs or how much of a money pit they might be (let alone how to drive one) but I'm going to keep it floating around in my head anyway because every man, woman and child should always have something stupid floating around in their head to aim for.


Bear stuff: As previously noted, I've postponed my Romanian trek to 2016 which on one hand is a little disappointing but on the other hand, gives me a lot more time to raise some decent money to actually do something useful. Meanwhile, the world keeps turning and the guys at World Animal Protection sent an emailer round yesterday about needing some funds to help Ellie the Dancing Bear.

Poached as a young six year old, she's been trained to 'dance' and 'perform' on the streets for money on a daily basis but then again, you don't have much choice about the dancing when you've had a hole drilled through your snout and a rope put through it so you can be controlled like a puppet.

It does not look like this:

Sadly, after many years, it does look a lot like this:

If you've skip out on that chocolate bar, the bottle of wine or the pizza just for today, you could click this and feel good about yourself for a few minutes. It's not as much of a high as say, getting stuck in an elevator with a celebrity of your choice and a smartphone, but it's close.


I would venture a guess that most of you passing by here haven't read much Shirley Jackson over the years. If I guess a little harder, I don't think I would be too wide of the mark if I said 'none' is the amount of Shirley Jackson's books under your belt, but I shall not judge. She's not exactly 'en vogue' but you're missing some gold if that's the case.

To put a slant on it for you, Shirley was the hand behind the novel The Haunting Of Hill House - made into the wonderful 1963 Robert Wise movie 'The Haunting' and also the not so brilliant 1999 attempt from Jan de Bont - and We Have Always Lived in the Castle along with a trawler full of short stories. I like her a lot.

Anyway, over at the New Yorker magazine, there's a piece Shirley wrote called Memory and Delusion about the act of writing itself. There's a lot of people out in the world that will tell you being a writer means being responsible to the profession, turning up at the blank page and 'doing the work'. Personally, I can't imagine anything more soul destroying and this article is the only time I have ever heard somebody who made a real dent in the world put into words what goes on in my head.

As a little aside to this, here's a great extract her husband wrote about her:

"She consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements. She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years." Hyman insisted the darker aspects of Jackson's works were not, as some critics claimed, the product of "personal, even neurotic, fantasies", but that Jackson intended, as "a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb", to mirror humanity's Cold War-era fears. Jackson may even have taken pleasure in the subversive impact of her work, as revealed by Hyman's statement that she "was always proud that the Union of South Africa banned 'The Lottery', and she felt that they at least understood the story".

Which kinda puts a lot of arguments about writing into sharp perspective don't you think.