Computing 101 (for idiots)

Last week I did something extremely clever. I deleted all the files on my external hard drive. Yes, all of them: photos, addresses, deathless prose – the works. And this, ironically, from the hard drive I had bought and connected specifically so that, if I were foolish enough to delete a file, I would have a backup. Duhhhh doesn’t cover it.

In a panic I screamed for my gurus. Tom Cat licked his paw laconically. ‘Have you tried your trash folder?’ he mewed. Wise Owl clicked her beak: ‘Whooo wold do such a stupid thing?’ she hooted (well, me, obviously) and then added ‘Try your trash folder.’

  • Of course, when the red mists of panic cleared I realised this was the obvious solution. I checked the trash folder and, yes, there they were. That’ll teach me to be blasé about technology. Perhaps I should revert to the typewriter after all.
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Paw Prints Ponders

The Demon Technology

Yesterday Himself and I celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day we met.  At a hen party, but that’s another story…

Today he said something to me he would never have said 40 years ago, or even 20.  I was in the kitchen, he was in his office, whence issued some very strange noises.  ‘Is that your printer making that noise?’ I enquired.

‘No,’ sez he, I’m watching YouTube.’

‘Oh, OK’ sez I, and went on peacefully chopping vegetables.

It got me thinking.  There’s so much about life today that we take blithely for granted. Got a problem or a question?  Google it.   Want to post on Facebook?  Take out your phone.  What, your phone battery is flat and you’re away from home?  Then charge it up in the car, silly.  We Tweet on the move, we Instagram in bed, we read books on our phones and watch movies on our tablets.

And then there’s email, which my young(er) friends tell me is soooo last year.  Well, I’ve got news for you, kiddies:  it’s actually last century.  I remember email back in the 80s: we had it at Granada and it was called PROFS.  OK, it was only an internal system (that is, it connected my office in London with my friend’s office in Manchester, but not with the outside world) but we thought it was the bee’s wotsits.

And while we were thinking ourselves fine fellows, communicating without leaving our desks, Himself was out in the real world, marketing… email.  Whisper it not, a Swiss-American corporation called Service 800 introduced ‘electronic mail’ to a startled world way back in 1979.

It didn’t catch on.  Puzzled that his crack sales team wasn’t making any headway with this revolutionary new invention, Himself went to investigate.  Of course, this was (nearly) the 80s, so ‘investigate’ was another word for ‘went out to lunch’.  Over a post-prandial brandy or two, Himself broached the subject with the communications director of a major bank, one of his biggest clients.

‘It’s wonderful,’ he enthused.  ‘Just think, you can send an instant message to colleagues in New York or Singapore and it’ll be there on their desks whenever they turn on their computers.  What’s not to like?’

‘But who does the typing?’ demurred the reluctant client.

‘That’s the beauty of it.  You do it yourself.  You don’t need to waste your secretary’s time with dictation.’

‘It’ll never work,’ said Bank Man.  ‘Men don’t type.’

And there’s a salutary lesson to all of us whose lives are increasingly ruled by the demon technology.  Never diss it.  Never say ‘it’s not for me.’  Trust me:  tomorrow, you’ll do the typing.

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Strutting our stuff

Well, we writers have to meet our adoring public, don’t we? So last Saturday my fellow Arun Scribe Rosemary Noble and I packed up our books and trundled over to Crawley, in West Sussex, where the library was having a local authors’ book fair.


It turned out to be a huge success: there were 22 writers there, and the organisers told me that many more had applied (so hopefully the next one will be bigger? ) The publicity both in advance and on the day was impressive, and so was the large turnout of potential readers / customers. I talked to lots of people and sold a few books. Here’s my abiding memory of the day: a fellow writer picked up my ‘coming soon’ flyer for the Limericks book, and laughed his head off. Eternal blessings to him for that! Here’s what made him giggle:

A cheerful young fellow named Trev
Went off for a romp in Lodeve.
But he soon lost his smile
When he caught something vile
In a house of delight called Mon Reve.

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Slightly less tentative

Since my September post, the mists of befuddlement have cleared slightly and I understand a little more about this ‘following’ business. Thanks to kind Pete at Verite Design, you can now FOLLOW me on Facebook if that is your wish. Thanks to kind Tom in darkest Wales, you can also SUBSCRIBE to this blog, should you wish to. Check out the two links on the right hand side of this page (oh, and if something doesn’t work, I’d be grateful for a message on Facebook to let me know).

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Rhyming in the kitchen

So (all good narratives have to begin with ‘so’ these days) … I’ve been running around the kitchen chanting to myself. Have I gone doo-lally? Lost what few marbles I still possessed? Nope. Bitten by That Worm again. You know the worm, that niggling inspiration that pops up at the most inopportune moments. And if you haven’t met him, why, you’ll find him right here on this blog (try February 2016).

So there I am, running around the kitchen muttering ‘Plates in the dishwasher… Not a bark or a growl… sweep up the crumbs… As silent as snow… put the kettle on… The dog’s on the prowl… sweep the floor… and where will she go?

Well that’s not immortal verse, I hear you cry. No of course it isn’t, you daft wee thing: it’s DOG-gerel. Still, it looks like I’ve found a title for my new book of comic verse. I was sure it was going to be called ‘Pelicans Can’t Read’, but the Worm tells me it has to be ‘A Furry Nose in the Fridge’. Go figure…

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A new dawn (I hope)

Paw Prints has been a mite dispirited of late, struggling to make these mewsings heard. Now thanks to a wonderful Tom cat (you know who you are…) – I have emerged blinking into a new dawn of technology. Thanks are also due to the regal Lady Bracknell – a.k.a. Jessie Cahalin, originator of the wonderful Books In My Handbag blog:

Plenty of news to relate, but here’s the most exciting for today. At Home in the Pays d’Oc has won a One Stop Fiction Five Star Book Award. Many thanks to Kathryn Bax, always supportive and helpful to the vain, needy and technologically incompetent.

Free books for readers at and lots of support for authors on the One Stop Fiction Facebook pages.

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A tentative paw

One of the reasons I have been so reluctant to post here is that I had a few problems with WordPress. The worst of these is that my ‘follow me’ wasn’t working properly. Now a kind friend has had a go at fixing this, so if you stumble across this blog please hit the ‘follow’ button and let me know how you get on.

Fingers crossed, I’m about to add some contact details…

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Life in the slow lane (not)

Is it really three months since I posted here? Mea maxima bad.

But we have not been idle. It all started when three members of the Arun Scribes writing group (Rosemary Noble, Angela Petch and I) found we all had books almost ready to publish. ‘Would you like to join Rosemary and me for lunch?’ emailed Angela. Or so I thought. How nice! A closer inspection revealed that what she actually wrote was ‘Would you like to join Rosemary and me in a launch?’

Certainly, said I blithely, and that’s where it all began.

First the meeting to decide the venue. Many were discussed and rejected, till Rosemary came up with the perfect place: the Museum in Arundel. We sorted a date, decided who would buy the fizz and orange juice and went back to our books. Job done.

Well, not quite. There was the small matter of a radio interview with Voice of Progress (talking newspapers)…

a Facebook launch…

and a silent movie .

There was social meeja to master and pawsteps into the Twittesphere to brave. We fought off mobi and epub dragons. We trepidly entered the lairs of the giant CreateSpace and the ogre Ingram Spark.

Rosemary, our brilliant techie, drove us hard. Angela, mother figure to us all, soothed and consoled and encouraged. And as for paw Prints: when I had finished having a meltdown (A Facebook launch? What’s that? How do you do it? I don’t understand anything about it! etc) I got busy with the press releases.

It was three months of angst, crises and tears, interspersed with a few triumphs as one or another of us ‘got it’, or there was an interview in the press (many thanks to the marvellous Phil Hewitt at West Sussex Newspapers) or a splendid listing (many thanks to wonderful Gill at Ingenue Magazine).

And it paid off. … after months of turmoil we, the Arun Scribes, finally launched our latest books (and some earlier ones too) on Sunday April 30th. We had a steady stream of visitors; they may have come to drink Prosecco but they stayed to chat – and buy books, bless them.
If you want to know more how we got on, clever-clogs Rosemary has mastered Adobe Spark (I hate her) and made this

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Almost there!

My new book ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc’ is within a cat’s whisker of hitting the bookshelves and the e-sphere. The cover design was delivered today – now all I have to do is tread the independent publishing maze, the promotion maze, the social media maze – and come out unscathed on the other side. Here’s a taster:

At Calais we lumbered off the ferry and, ignoring a small official with a large hat who kept bellowing ‘Fret! Fret!’ at us, we made our determined way to the domestic immigration channel. The small official pursued us, and when he paused for breath I explained politely that, no, we weren’t freight: we were an inoffensive English couple taking some household goods to a maison secondaire. We had all the paperwork, I added helpfully. For a second this gave the small official pause, then he brightened. ‘Douanes, Douanes’ he said, gesturing towards a dilapidated hut off to one side of the docks. Dutifully, we made our way to the Douanes, the customs shed.
The customs officer peered disdainfully through his little window at the dusty Ford Transit sagging on its springs, at the laden trailer with here a chair leg, there a lamp shade poking out from beneath its insecurely tied tarp. Ignoring the fact that I had spoken to him in French, ‘Do you heff an eeenventory?’ he sneered.

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Paw Prints Ponders…

The Best-laid Plans

Well, woman may propose, as the proverb (almost) goes, but something – be it god, fate or the ‘lurgy – disposes.  In my case it was definitely the latter.

‘Oh, you’re going to learn about social media?’ said Fate.  ‘Well, we’ll see about that…’  While everyone else was gainfully employed learning about Tweeting and posting on Facebook and building up a fan base, I was flat on my back thinking death might be an easy way out.

Can’t complain:  everyone I know has had the blessed ‘lurgy, but it ain’t nice while it’s going on.

So the blog resumes for 2017, and a belated very happy  New Year to anyone who might be reading this.  Not that it (2017) bodes well.  Celebrities dropped like flies.  One celebrity, who might not be missed if he did drop (I name no names but an American friend calls him Orange Julius) instead ascended to the highest office in the land – across the pond, that is.

As for this space, mewsings will be posted as and when they occur to me.  Saturday limericks are suspended but the odd ‘rick will surely pop up from time to time.

News there is aplenty, so watch this space.

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