Archive for March, 2008

Where Am I? No.3

26,March, 2008

collage4.jpgThis was my ship’s last port of call before we sail Across the Atlantic. So for the winner of the final Where Am I? (for the time being) a pair of very fetching Sock Shop Colour Burst socks.

Things Learned While Painting

25,March, 2008

My lovely REFOL Nadene is decorating while I am slaving away on a cruise ship here in the Caribbean. (I actually have to work two nights in these ten days.) She sent me this email that you guys have to read:


I Just wanted to share the joy/relief I am feeling at finishing the bathroom or PROJECT – OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I STARTED as it became known. Is it wrong of me to want to crack open a vodka at 11am?

I learnt many things whilst completing this project.

1. When the paint salesman says ‘buy this paint – it’s great you only need to do one coat‘ you should multiply ‘one’ by four for accuracy.

2. When the paint salesman says ‘ Naaaah you don’t need to dilute it‘ – dilute it.

3. Someone who almost failed kindergarten for not being able to color within the lines should definately use masking tape when using 2 different colored paints next to one another.

4. Painting with your head right next to a toilet is some of the fastest painting you will ever do.

5. There are some really rancid smelling toilet rinse aids out there

6. When throwing out rancid smelling toilet rinse aids – use the outside bin as overnight the smell permeates the house and is not nice to wake up to.

7. Carrot sticks and toilet freshners do not go well together (no matter what the recipie says)

8. When the paint salesman says ‘No you won’t need any more paint than this – this will probably do 2 coats – even though you only need one!’ see number 1 and what he is really saying is this tin won’t even last you one single coat which will precipitate you ringing 7 hardware stores around London on Easter Sunday until eventually you will find 2 stores that are open – one close to where you live that doesn’t have that particular paint in that color or one that stocks that paint way way way across the other side of town that does!

9. Always check your face in the mirror before entering the public domain after painting.

10. Yes for some reason you do use water based paint in a bathroom.

11. Just because it is water based doesn’t mean it comes off your skin.

12. If you have been painting and drinking tea at the same time – the white blobby stuff at the bottom of your mug is probably not part of the biscuit you were dunking.

13. if there is some place that it would be really really bad to dribble paint – then perhaps you should cover it up.

14. When painting one large glass of red wine goes a long way (unlike paint)

15. Really packing as much paint onto the roller as possible means you can paint faster and longer.

16. When painting ceilings – paint does abide by the laws of gravity.

17.Best not to apply rule 15 when doing ceilings

18.The ‘This is fun’ of painting doesn’t last as long as you might think.

Where the Heck Are We?

25,March, 2008

were-am-i-2.jpgIt’s time for another edition of _ Where am I? Get in there quick dear sock fan’s. We can’t have Subgear getting all of my only worn once remnants. A pair of Pink Panter socks to the first correct guesser.

Nick and Finn

23,March, 2008

I just finished a novel about old friends that was recommended by an old friend. He thought I would like it and I did. That’s the thing about old friends – they know you.


Traveller is a novel by Ron McLarty. It’s a story split between a nostalgic recanting of the protagonist’s high school gang and a murder that takes thirty years to be committed. A good novel can take over my thinking almost to the point of possession. Since I started this book I have been thinking about my own youth and narrating it in Ron McLarty’s voice. And I have never met him. I don’t even know what he sounds like.

One of the main themes of Traveller is bullying. Not just getting elbowed in the corridor between classes but the, just short of mortal peril, type bullying. It’s a theme in a lot of American high school fiction. I don’t know if I was just really lucky or if American authors are prone to hyperbole but I never experienced much bullying. Saying that, a scene in McLarty’s book reminded me of an incident at my senior prom.

Even though he was 17/18 like the rest of us Nick Finellie, due to some sort of congenital disease, looked like he was 13 – just. I’m sure he never forgot what he looked like but often we did. He was a great guy, full of life. We never told him at the time but we loved him. At the senior prom he found himself alone in the men’s room with a group of thuggish guys from another school’s prom being held in a wing of the same venue. When they pointed out that Nick looked like he was an 8th grader in a Halloween tuxedo, it wasn’t anything the feisty Finellie didn’t know already– he probably pushed first but can you blame him? Just as things could have gotten bad for Nick – Mark Finnery came in. If Nick was the smallest in our class, Finn was definitely the largest. The natural center on the football team, Mark was not fat – he was just big. He sized up the situation and walked over to the largest of Nick’s tormenters, who grew smaller with every step. He didn’t shout, he didn’t push, he didn’t punch, he didn’t even threaten. He just took the carnation from the guy’s lapel and ate it. They all backed out of the restroom happy to be alive.

Nick’s dead. The same condition that stopped him from growing meant that his heart didn’t last as long as the rest of ours. I don’t know what Fin is doing – I hope he’s a diplomat.

Traveller by Ron McLarty is a good read – give it a go.

Where ?Am I

22,March, 2008

I’m on my travels again and it’s time for another instalment of, “Where am I?” This one is way, way tougher than that Table Mountain underhand pitch I gave you before – this is a fastball.
A week’s worth of clean, only worn once socks to the winner.


Click on the thumbnail above for the full photo.


I’m glad I’m not a screenwriter.

19,March, 2008

I was reminded that the judge in Monday’s post was the father in law of one of my neighbors. Mark is, among other things, a screenwriter. I remembered one day he was in my kitchen while I was writing Shadowmagic. I told him that I had been having difficulty coming up with a good way for my characters get in to a castle and decided that they would sneak in under the cover of an attack by a large army.

Mark said, “I hate you.”

When I asked why he said, “You didn’t even have to stop and think how much that army will cost to film, did you?”

I hadn’t. I’m glad I’m not a screenwriter.

Saying that, I can’t really say I’m a novelist until one gets published.  Still no news on the fate of Shadowmagic and it’s driving me crazy. I’ll let you know, when I know.

John L

Sports Relief

18,March, 2008

Sports Relief is a charity event by the same folks that bring you Comic Relief. This idea is that you do some physical activity and raise money. Sainsbury‘s Supermarket is selling the socks for £2 and half goes to charity. In lieu of doing any actual physical activity – I bought the socks.


And quite nice they are too.

A Top Hat and a Fag

17,March, 2008

A couple of years ago I was hired to perform for an 85th birthday party. The birthday boy had been a very prominent high court judge and the party was thrown at his house nestled in a lovely village in the bosom of the home counties.

The judge’s daughters assured me that their octogenarian father was a magic fan but a couple of minutes into the show he nodded off in the corner as I entertained his neighbours and friends. About half way through the act I asked, as I always do, to borrow a pack of cigarettes. This crowd, almost entirely over fifty, did not contain one smoker.

It was a very casual and friendly show. I told my smoke free audience how I had been noticing more and more that my audiences were smoking less and less. I told them that I owned several old magic books that said things like, “Borrow a top hat from a member of the audience…” I mused that maybe in years to come that borrowed cigarette tricks will be as extinct as borrowed top hat tricks.

I was sure the judge was sleeping in the corner but just then he piped up and in the posh-ist of British accents said, “I have a top hat for you – if you want one.”

I’m in the Mood for a Good Wallow

12,March, 2008

There is a line in an old song that goes, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” I wish I remembered the song. I’m in the mood for a good wallow.

The Friday Project – publisher of my first novel Shadowmagic has gone bust. Even though my first print run of 1000 hardbacks is almost sold-out in pre-order – it doesn’t look like they have enough money to print it. Seems like a good time to get morosely drunk.

I remember another time when the media gods were toying with me and I was feeling very sorry for myself. I stayed up late and drank too much. At about two am, one of those cheap stand-up comedy shows (the kind were they just put a camera in the back of a comedy club) came on. I remember being drunk, sitting there and out-loud shouting at the TV screen, “My career is so crap I’m not even on crappy TV shows like that!” No sooner had I said that, then the announcer said, “First up on the Laughter Tonight – Magician John Lenahan.” The media gods even like to screw with my wallowing.

I’ll know more about of the fate of my book next week. Until then – have you seen the bottle opener?

Inflated Obama

11,March, 2008

Balloon animal twisting, like yodelling, or accordion or bagpipe playing (or magic for that matter) gets dissed a lot. But like all of the novelty arts that are performed badly by so many- there are a couple of true artists that can make one sit up and take notice.

Check out balloon twister extraordinaire – Ori Livney