Dave has enthused about the blogmeet he went to on Saturday, and has roped me into coming along next time. From the looks of things, it's a good idea...

Hello to to those of you who followed the repeated and rather insistent links from the realm of the Greenhamster...

But I have worries over a few things...
1. I am a lot less eloquent with opinions etc in person
2. I really don't know the first thing about HTML or web design...this site is the webdesign equivalent of a Heath Robinson
3. I don't have a moniker...ie. Greenhamster... or even a 'genic/x'...Hydragenic or Kryogenix like any of the other Stuarts out there...I just have a name...
4. I don't even have a proper URL. For shame.

But hey.
I think these things are a good idea. How we as a blogging community go about it is another matter!

Beer would seem to be a good start...

...Which Is The True Purpose of Art

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I’m having a bit of difficulty.
I liken writing this book to being in a farce...something like Charlie’s Aunt. To begin with a little lie is told, just to make life easier. Then it has to be followed up with a bigger one in order to make everything seem that much more believable, things start to get out of control and before you know it you’re pretending to be your own twin, dressing up in drag and discussing where the nuts come from.

If anyone reading this ever told fibs to their friends or their parents...(I would imagine that this includes just about everyone, but you never know, Big Brother UK winner Cameron might read this...) then you’ll know that it’s a tricky thing keeping track of a lie. You have to constantly think about what the person you’re with thinks they know, and you have to act and speak accordingly.

I have created the most complex and enormous lie, 120,000 words long, and I’m constantly tested by someone who is trying to catch me out (by the way, that person is also me...this analogy is complex enough without having to introduce the schizophrenic complexities of the writer vs. writer’s ‘imaginary reader’ relationship).

It feels weirder than that feeling when you come out of the exam and you realise that all the information that you revised but weren’t tested on is still in your head.
With the slightest thought you can recall the entire ‘Is this a dagger I see before me?’ speech from Macbeth ( ...along with all its implications, the historical aspect of the phrasing, how they got a knife hovering across the stage in 1572, etc...etc) even though the questions ended up being on Hamlet.

There’s just so much information in my head. I created all of it, and it all has to make sense! It can’t contradict itself, be unrealistic, it can’t say one thing and then another...and at the moment, the only link between this enormous wodge of information, attempted jokes, sinuous plot lines, the odd moral and the real world is my own strained judgement on what other people will make of it all.

I’m not sure I’ve made it clear yet – I love this book and I hate it. It feels like a Frankenstein’s monster that is rising up to throttle its creator with green hands.

Igor is fetching another glass of cheap white wine from the ice box, and stops on his way across the stone slabs to remind me that Dr. Atkins says that this is the last one I can have this week.
Or rather, because there are some literary impressions that are hard to shake even when you’re trying to be original, he says, “Marther, thith ith the latht glarth you can have thith week, according to Doctor Atkin’th New Diet Revolution!”

“Thank you Igor. Crank up the lightning rods please. I think it’s about time we brought this bastard to life, don’t you?"

*dramatic pause*

"Mua ha ha ha ha ha HA HA AHA HA HAHAHAHAHHHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!"

...and so on.

All Our Yesterdays...

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On Sunday, July the 21st, 2002, I was bored and on the internet...

I am 22, and marooned on the British equivalent of Alcatraz...the Isle of Wight.

My name is Stuart...and the story of how I came to be here is a long one...about 22 years long, in fact.
I'm really only wrting this because I'm curious about the concept of a weblog...I have random thoughts most of the time, so I expect I'lll be putting a fair amount on here.
Keep posted.

One year later, and I'm quite impressed with myself really...it's like looking back and realising that I've kept a New Year's resolution without trying.

I'm resisting the urge to do one of those birthday stock-takes that inevitably leave you feeling like you have wasted a whole year of your life and you should really get your life/shit/laundry together...and the feeling leaves you a few days later in exactly the same mood as you generally proceed through life only with a twinge of regret that you, when you put your hopeless ideals to one side and get right down to it, like living this way.

As Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, 'We are put on this earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.'.

I think I'm giving my ideals a bit of quality time at the moment, and I like that, but I am feeling the need to pencil some serious farting around time into my calendar, hence the book deadline.

Happy 1st Birthday to The Autoblography, and here's to a hopelessly ambitious further 100 years...


Blog Bifurcation

Incidentally, I've scrapped Books, because I realised that I listen to a hell of a lot of music and I want to review that too. I STILL couldn't think of a better name, so you're stuck with Reviews...

And it's goodnight from him...

So; with the first birthday posting done, I said I'd sign off for a while to focus on the booooook, and that's what I'm going to do.

Wish me luck, people.

(Please...) :-)


Addendum, 22nd July 2003: Browsing the news today and notice that the annual Key West Ernest Hemingway look-a-like competition took place yesterday ... because that was his birthday ... so The Autoblography shares it's birthday with one of my favourite writers ... and I would like to point out that this was entirely accidental!

The Book Stops Here

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Following some deep thinking and pondersome strolls around the fields of Hatfield, I've come to a decision.

It is this draft, this one, not the next one or the one after that, that I will use to try and get an agent to take forward for publishing.

There might still be a gap between my writing now and how I want to write, but hey, you learn your whole life.
That's what it's for.

It's crunch time. No more procrastinating.

I figure I need about three chapters and a synopsis for agent-snaring, and I'm half a chapter into the new draft. The 112,000+ total of the first draft will probably become a lot slimmer as this second draft progresses, as there is a lot of paring and honing going on. Progress is slow, but I'm putting the hours in and at the moment am aiming to have the agent-package finished by the end of August. There is a difference to writing the new draft. Befroe I had to force myself to stop only when I knew precisely what I was going to do next...that way I would be able to sit down and charge off. Now I am stopping because my eyes are closing by themselves...because it's 3 in the morning. Each time I stop, I realise what I've done and a tight knot of excitement curls up to the top of my stomach. It feels good to be making this progress. I know it is better this time. It is a whole, rather than a stream of words with no end...

I'm going to ease off the blogging for a while after the 21st of July (you'll see) because at the moment some mornings I spend my hour-and-a-half pre-work writing time doing stuff for the three blogs.
I'm gonna need that time.

It hit me the other day how much I want to be moving onto other projects...this book has been lurking around in the background of my life for the last year, and to be perfectly honest I hate it and love it, I want to get rid of it and I want it to stay...I want it to be finished and at the same time for it always to be there when I need it.

I have no idea if this is normal...and I have no way of finding out!

I am very excited, and very, very nervous.

Cheers to everyone for support and buckets of ego-massaging/polishing/buffing encouragement...guess I'd better try and prove you all right, huh?

(I'm bricking it some here by the way)

Not Just Another Bachelor Boy

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Yesterday I took the day off work to attend my Dad's graduation ceremony.
Not something a lot of people have had the experience of, I would imagine, and it certainly gave me a whole new twist on how to look at things, and the world in general.

My Dad, not to put too fine a point on it, worked his arse off for this degree.
Consistently, relentlessly, persistently, hungrily, with a determination and set to his jaw combined with an elegance of thought and deed that was incredible to see.

For five years.

So, it was with beaming pride and whoops of support that Mum, my sister Jemma, and I, watched him walk up the steps to shake the hand of the Vice Chancellor of Portsmouth University.
His was the ninety-somethingth degree to be read out, and all veterans of ceremonies of this kind will know that universal applause has begun to flag by this point, with people realising that bruising their own hands through constant clapping is rather an undesirable activity.
However, the Registrar's list reading rhythm was broken, for the first time that day, by adding;

"...with First Class Honours...Keith Hockney."

Most people in the auditorium were close to others who had just finished three long years of degree, and knew what this meant.

The applause was intense.

I know Keith hadn't done it for the opinions of others, the impression that it would give them or the kudos it would claim for him. He pushed for that First because he wanted it and because that's the kind of person he is.

But still, he had earned the applause he recieved yesterday through his own efforts for his own reasons, and for our part there were three people who care about him very much right in the front row, clapping our hands off and fit to burst with the sheer joy and pride of seeing him achieve his dream.

It may be the understatement of the century so far, but - nicely done Keith.

Nicely done.

Second Helpings

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Firstly, an apology.
Something as out of the ordinary as a break-in at my office occurred and all I blogged about was the music I was listening to.
Self-obsessed crap of the crappiest order.
Sorry.

Tuesday morning I arrived to find my work area cordoned off because one window had been forced and the steel security lattice ripped open. The entrant or entrants had then leapt over my boss’ desk and taken a bizarre interest in all the cupboards on the top floor as the alarms went off.
Nothing was stolen.

A plain-clothes policeman arrived to take fingerprints, and he pulled off an entertaining double take when he realised, with his dusting brush poised, that everything was already covered with a fine layer of my boss’ snuff.
He left, we went back to work.

One phrase from all the conversations that day about the break-in stopped me when I was about to leave the office. Someone had said, “Maybe it was a recce.”
So, just to be on the safe side, I decided to take home everything of value that was actually mine. My big graphical calculator, my stereo, my custom pen…after a little more consideration I added my technical drawing kit and pencils. All that was left was my mug and my work shoes. I stood looking at them for a second or two, weighing it up.
I was obviously taking this far too seriously.

The next morning I arrived to find the whole office staff sitting outside in the sunshine looking rather glum. The intruders had been back, disabled the alarm, and helped themselves to whatever took their fancy from the whole building. Only one cupboard had been opened this time – the one that held the alarm system.

Thirty-odd sexy black Pentium 4 PCs, gone. Only their monitors and keyboards were left. An enormous, internet-linked flat screen TV, gone.

My own PC was one of the stolen ones, and I write on a colleagues meagre Pentium 3, a less racy beige colour…maybe less saleable?
I now have to write the report I’m working on longhand.

Oh well.

…but my mug and shoes were still here.
Phew!

I noticed that I've neglected to listen to a hell of a lot of my music collection for ages. I've been buying some newer stuff with my newfound...er, well I was going to say wealth, but that would be a lie really, so...newfound money, and carrying the new stuff around in my walkman, changing the CD every few days...

Last night I spent an entertaining evening writing and listening to old albums. Sleeper, Gene, The Bluetones, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene...the list goes on.

In fact, I was so taken with the Three Colours Red album, 'Pure' that it has displaced Lemon Jelly.ky from my walkman and I had to try not to headbang or mime shouting along to the lyrics on the bus this morning. Top stuff!

So, in the spirit of blogging for the sake of it...

I'm listening to: Three Colours Red, 'Pure' - I got ridiculously into this album whilst playing Command & Conquer ooo, when all this were fields. Suitably aggressive and kick-ass rock, and I surprised myself by still knowing the words to the hits 'Sixty Mile Smile' and 'Nuclear Holiday'.

I'm reading: Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera...STILL. I only read it on the bus in the mornings, so not making a lot of progress. In the meantime at home I've read about three other books. This may be the longest time it's taken me to read any book, ever, of course discounting Lord of The Rings (gave up after the first third...I was only 8), and Vikram Seth's 'A Suitable Boy'...which took me the best part of a summer through being so bloody enormous. Love in the time...is, remarkably, amazing. Hence the stretching out. I want to keep my mind in it for as long as possible.

I'm playing: GTA Vice City...I stopped for ages in the concrete belief that the missions I had got to were impossible through conventional means. After a three week break I did all three of them within an hour. Am enjoying it muchly. Still only 32% into the game. Quite frankly, I am in awe.

I'm eating: MEAT

I'm surfing: Other people's blogs, and also attempting to find out about flights to and from Andalucia, as Allie and I are planning a holiday for September. Thinking I might go and see a bullfight, just so I can make up my own mind. (Oooo, controversial)

I'm thinking: I might have to spend one of my hard-earned weekends in the British Library, as there is a hell of a lot I need to get straight in my book. For starters, the name of the country I have created and placed in Central America is also the name of two towns (One Spanish, One Mexican).
I didn't know this before.
Where I've put the country there's actually something approaching what I thought (oh, naivete!) I'd created - a lawless no-go area that has no roads, no communications, and even no government, as Panama has abandoned it...it's called the Darien Gap.
I didn't know this before.

Even more strangely, seeing as I chose the (I thought, made-up) name 'Merida' for two reasons -
1. It's an anagram of the Spanish for shit - mierda.
2. The adjective then becomes 'Meridian', lending the whole thing a bit of verisimilitude.

'Merida' is not a million miles away from being an anagram of 'Darien'...but that might be trying to draw one too many coincidences out of an already odd situation.

...but I don't think so.
My office, specifically, the window closest to my desk, was the scene of an attempted break in last night. This meant I more or less had the morning off because I was waiting for the police to arrive to take fingerprints off the window etc etc.
They were agreeably late.

A Town of Two Halves

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Allie and I went to Hatfield House at the weekend, and bumped into the rather enthusiastic Marquis of Salisbury (in the library, with the candlestick), you know, as you do.
Calling it Hatfield House is a bit of a misnomer. It's a palace.

It used to be a palace, it looks, feels and smells like a palace.
Hell, it probably even tastes like one.

I thought it was very nice. There was a wedding going on in the grounds, and elsewhere about 300 schoolkids and their flailing parents were engaging in what looked like country dancing.
That was entertaining, if only for the spectacle of a 6 foot man attempting to swing his two and a half foot child partner down a tunnel made from the upraised and rather low arms of other 2 foot tall dancers, without lifting her off the ground and/or broadsiding the lot of them with a ballistic six year old.

It hit me just what a crazy world this is, at this moment in history. Most past cultures and civilisations have either feared and revered or steamrollered (figuratively speaking) the relics of bygone ages, whereas we're keeping things alive, well....okay, keeping things, and building and changing and letting our towns cities and countries grow up around them.

I was standing in the library with the Marquis chattting amiably in the background to one of the probably-cloned and almost ornamental old ladies that were dotted around the corridors as guides, or...uh, exhibits, and I was looking out of the window at the gardens.

Beautiful gardens they are. Manicured, or whatever the gardening term is, interesting (shaped hedges and bushes are all very well, but this place was growing igloos) and extensive (although I thought the Wilderness Garden was a bit tongue in cheek). The window itself was lead-lattice, the room I was standing in was enormous, packed with ancient, leather-bound books, with balconies with more books and black steel spiral staircases to get to them. A huge ebony statue of George the Ffth dominated the room from above the fireplace.

And in the middle distance, above the trees, I could see the two tower blocks that constitute the legacy of Hatfield's brief 1960s housing mania, and behind them, the bizarre hooping grey steel frame of the large out-of-town shopping centre, the Galleria.

Just made me feel a bit wierd, that's all.

Large blobby thing found on beach...

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Okay, so they’ve found a thirteen ton bit of...er, organic matter 700 miles from the Chilean capital.

The newscasters say it is being DNA checked to find out what it is...potentially a new species, maybe a giant octopus (no one mentioning giant squid at this point. Notice that?), maybe...and this is the bit that gets me...maybe it’s a bit of a whale.

Now, I don’t want to sound alarmist, and yes, it is sad that this particular whale has ended its days and had its intestines washed up on a Chilean beach, but that isn’t the fact we should be concerning ourselves with. The really worrying thing is:

What the hell is down there that could do that to a whale?

And, more to the point, to a whale so big that his/her intestines weigh thirteen tons?

Fourteen days and fourteen nights

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This diet forbids any kind of alcohol for the first two weeks.
Not happy.

Doctor, Doctor...

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People that have lived with me in the past (oh, all...21 of you) will know that there is probably not a more carbohydrate-intensive diet plan in the whole world than the diet I developed through eating exactly what I want.

Pasta. Lots of pasta.
Italian food combined with the French habit of having bread with just about everything, including sandwiches.

But, in a not entirely subtle way my body has been telling me that maybe my new sedentary desk job isn't doing me a lot of good. It's been popping buttons off trousers (admittedly with drastically fraying button cotton beforehand) and, despite all my training for the Three Peaks, it's generally taking more effort to move around.
So, I have ditched my Mediterranean-style diet and reverted to a caveman-style one.

I'm doing the Atkins diet.

This is not going down well with my body, as it also outlaws the other love of my life, coffee.
Nevertheless, it's the only diet that I know of that lets you eat pretty much as much as you want, so I figure what the hell.

I'm on day two, and so far I've plundered Asda for lunch both days. Six pieces of chicken (drumsticks/thighs) yesterday and two legs today.
Last night I had beef grills and a couple of Pepperamis whilst knocking about the house doing laundry and editing some chapters (Oh God I've got a lot to do). Had bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning. I may shop for some 'permitted' vegetables this evening, but this all feels sooooooooo the wrong way to go about losing some weight. It makes sense, fair enough, but...still...

That's all I'm going to say, as I don't want to turn The Autoblography into a diet diary, but know that I am on it, and hence it might be me that you see stalking across the open spaces of your local park, brandishing a crude spear and flint knife, eyeing passing ducks with a carnivorous gleam in my eye.

Ug.
Ug indeed.

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