Thursday, 21 July 2011


I have found myself subconsciously adopting the Spanish trait of how and where to acquire a pitch on the beach, namely as close to the tideline as possible without endangering your towel. What I am yet to do, to complete my Spanish beach transformation, is to purchase a low level deckchair and a parasol, seemingly de rigeur equipment for beach trips.
Despite my best attempt at cultural integration I have yet to perfect the art of front-line pitching. I considered myself to be at the forefront but was dismayed to discover, with the arrival of ladies even more curvaceous than myself, to have left more than enough room for another line. My view of the tranquil sea stretching out towards Africa was blighted by a multi-coloured parasol, lime green chair and Picasso style beach towel. To add to my chagrin the ladies in question, following a rapido telephone conversation, then undertook that very Spanish of activities – promenading along the beach – for some considerable time. So, view ruined and they’re not there to enjoy what I can’t.
The women did at least promenade in the time honoured manner unlike some chap, athletic of leg and sporting an unusual titfer, who promenaded backwards. Slowing down only occasionally to glance over his shoulder, he passed along the beach like a film on rewind.
The beach was a colourful spectacle from one side of the bay to the other. A ribbon of psychedelic mushrooms lining the first thirty feet of beach petered out to a few puce mushrooms in front of each of the chiringuitos. And squatted beneath the verisimilitude of fungi was the full array of Spanish life – grandmothers of girth, slender señoritas, cute children of various shades and sizes and the occasional hombre, there either as a pressurised father or as a toned member of a herd of young bucks.
By three o’clock it was as if truffle hunters had passed over the playa and plucked the best. The ground was denuded as one by one families retired for lunch. My view of the Mediterranean was restored, punctuated by colourful commas of windsurfers, as I picked up pen and paper and started to write.
(Apologies for the lack of photo but I was too busy watching to remember to photograph!)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Plot Thickens

…well I wish it would; like a consommé it is a little on the thin side.
My writing habits have become like my reading habits – not content with one book or genre at a time I have several books on the go. When history and travel take my fancy I work on the second of my travel memoirs, ‘A Little Bit of Italy’ which, surprisingly enough relates to my travels around northern and central Italy. But when romance is on the menu then I turn to my novel – and this is where I have my concerns regarding plot.
Never having written a novel I am unsure as to whether I have all the right ingredients and in the right measures, to create an effective and readable book. I have, therefore, undertaken a couple of free creative writing courses and purchased a rather good book on how to write fiction (which is currently being decorated with my notes) to  provide me with a)learning on these matters and b)  some degree of reassurance.
I am pleased to say that as far as characterisation goes I think I’ve cracked it. I know just about everything there is to know about my hero or heroine, from the food and drink they do and do not like, their favourite colours and which childhood diseases they had contracted. My setting is known (it is a real place)and I frequently return to it to write descriptive pieces and soak up the atmosphere – the very essence of the city is becoming known to me. It is the plot that is causing the concern (as well as the potential sex scenes – I’ll come to that later). A good romance needs conflict – hero and heroine need to overcome obstacles to realise the happy ending. I have conflict, but is it enough? Have I created sufficient obstacles (bearing in mind that I don’t want it to descend to a ‘It’s a Knockout’ type farce)? So the writing, per se, is on hold as I go back through the outline and chapter plan and make necessary adjustments.
As for the sex scenes, well that is another kettle of fish altogether. I do not want my first literary acknowledgement to be the winner of the Literary Review’s annual ‘Bad Sex in Fiction Award’, though as Brendan Behan once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary’. So, I need to practise.  I shall start by writing about kisses  - that is after all where it all starts – and build up from there, follow the natural course of events, disengage the puritan part of my brain (yes, there is one!), and set forth on a voyage of sexual discovery through the power of my pen. I’m coming over all coy at the thought of it. Who said they’d prefer a cup of tea to sex?
Got to go…the kettle’s just boiled…

(Boy George prefers a 'nice cup of tea to sex')