A.J. Walker

writerer

Voice Activated: 3

After reading the Read Me Speak Me poems No.120 and 121 last weekend it is time for poem No.122: it's almost like they are in numeric order or something. This week's poem is 'Journey Along The Banks' by Swarn Gill @theedemaruh

JourneyAlong

Haven't decided whether to put it directly onto Twitter, or whether to create a folder and put it up on my YouTube. I'm thinking ultimately YouTube makes sense as for some of the longer poems as they won't fit onto a Tweet. That said this one would fit I'm sure so perhaps I can do both.

We'll see later on.


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Voice Activation

It's funny how you can find yourself doing things out of the blue. This week I came across #ReadMeSpeakMe for the first time. I dare say I'd seen it lots across Twitter over the months, given the people who are involved with it, but it hadn't hit home. It seems a really neat idea. Each week they post a poem for people to read, record and post to see how the poem changes with different readers. I'm assuming all the poets are from within the Twitter writing community as opposed to Keats and Wordsworth (you never see them on there). Anyway, yesterday I decided to give it a go for the first time. The poem (below) was 'Arrival At The Sea' by Juan Antonio Garcia (@NoosferaMedia).

Arrival to the Sea

It took around eight attempts to get it down. And there were a few issues. Firstly there was how to record it. I'd have done it on my iPad ideally as I'd have more options for saving it. Unfortunately I couldn't read the poem on the phone to record on the iPad, but could do it the other way around. I never got around to printing it out. Then it was time to put it up on Twitter. But the 80 seconds of video made quite a large file. Whilst it would have gone up on Twitter (I think) it was taking a while. I couldn't change the size of the file on my phone directly. I had to download an App to compress it, which I sorted next.

So all in all with multiple attempts of recording it, then messing about with uploading it and downloading a new app and what not, it probably took me about an hour to get it sorted. I suppose on my next attempt it shouldn't take as long with the app sorted.

That said, this week's poem has gone up today and it looks like it'll take a few attempts. It's good to see it's from someone I know on Twitter though. The poem is '
Epoch Song' by Margaret Lonsdale (@fhaedra). And yes, I will be giving it a go. If you fancy trying it then get yourself over to @ReadMeSpeakMe and maybe I'll see you there.

Epoch Song


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Flash Friday HM

Yet again I managed not to get around to writing my story for Flash Friday until the early hours of the morning on Saturday. Submitted it around 1:30am again I think. Actually found the photo not that helpful for me. I don't know why. But I got something done.

And yes - Huzzah! - I got my first mention of this year's Flash Friday challenge. Both judges found themselves smiling at the comedy of it and gave the story an Honourable Mention. Which for me is great to hear. I suppose so many of my stories are not literary masterpieces but they are light hearted and heartfelt and if anyone finds them even slightly amusing then to my mind it is job done.

Thanks to the judges for giving me a mention this week. I will continue to galvanise myself to write for challenges like this and drive those lips into a grin where I can.
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Farewell, Wales

After delivering across North Wales for so long things have suddenly changed and I'm now closer to home delivering in areas in and around Warrington. It's swings and roundabouts in terms of what this actually means in terms of whether this is a positive.

Clearly the miles going to and from Wales every day were sometimes significant. I could be delivering around Corwen, Llanwrst, Caernarvon, or even Holyhead. That would mean I'd be doing up to 280 miles a day - or well over 1200 miles a week. Now doing Warrington, and a little beyond, the maximum miles will likely be between 60 and 100 miles a day. This will take a lot less time (though there will be a consequent up tick in number of deliveries).

Unfortunately instead of going out a 8-9am we are now going out a 10:30-11:15pm, which means a knock-on later finish (albeit less of a commute home). And at the moment with the nights drawing in every day it means delivering in the dark. To be fair delivering in the dark in urban or suburban areas of Warrington should be better in terms of finding the addresses because a) streetlights and b) numbered houses instead of named properties - if you ever do a delivery job the No.1 bane of your life is named houses. With a numbered property you can guess what's next door - generally two numbers or one number different. With named houses there is no way of guessing and the time wasted walking up the wrong driveways is significant.

That said, delivering in some areas of Warrington (I won't name them) does not look like it'll be particularly fun - or safe. And there are surprisingly large areas of estates with few roads, meaning walking around between blocks of flats and houses trying to work out the numbering. I'll either be getting fitter with all the walking or making it damn harder on my knees. I've been doing 12-14k steps this past week at work.

Working in the winter has its own issues including snow and ice as well as the dark, and whilst some of the areas don't look like they'll be great, from a driving perspective there are some advantages of Warrington over North Wales. Especially the road lighting and road conditions. Trying to turn in the road, or even just reverse down a country lane or driveway at some isolated farm, in the dark is an absolute nightmare in a van. You really could do with headlights at the back - and the risk of going onto grass in the wet or skidding on ice can be a scary proposition. It is not uncommon for drivers to end up stuck just off the road or fallen in a ditch. Costly and dangerous. I won't miss that fear.

All in all the change in delivery area from North Wales to Warrington is a mixed blessing and we'll see how it goes. I'll certainly miss some of the countryside, views and amazing properties I've been getting to. The photos (like #DailyDeliveryPhoto) I put on Twitter and Instagram certainly won't be the same. But I won't miss: the M56; the A55; tailbacks behind tractors/horses/cyclists; reversing down a hill a winding road when meeting traffic; flooding; mud or ice on a bendy road; isolated properties on one side of a valley or other; and, of course, named houses. Farewell, Wales.
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NaNoNo

Well, I appear to have fooked up my NaNoWriMo projects page (think I clicked on update an old project rather create a new one) and there's no sign of help getting it sorted yet. I've only written about 2800 words on it at this point, but part of the fun and inspiration in NaNo is updating and seeing the progress of the project each day. So without that I think I'm going to bin off doing NaNo this year.

Of course that doesn't mean that I have to stop work on the project. In fact it means I can now spend some time planning it making it easier to be better in the long term. I've also got the 2018 project to finish of course.

In short I've given NaNo the heave and will sort something out in its place. Maybe I should sort out some nice visuals too - would be nice to see a graph that isn't about Coronavirus, or votes in Pennsylvania.

In the meantime good luck to those of you doing NaNo this year.
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History Lessons Indeed

Bit late in the day, four days into NaNoWriMo, but I have finally decided to jump in with both feet. On Monday I was having a think about it but hadn't done anything about it. Was in work yesterday and watching the footy yesterday evening (a fantastic 5-0 win for Liverpool at Atalanta).

Think I've clicked on the wrong thing trying to create my project and instead of creating a new one have modified 'Fergie Time' my project from 2016. Will see how I can fix that - if indeed I can.

I have done NaNo twice before: 2016 and 2018, with 'Fergie Time' and 'The Wobbly Odyssey.' Both were completed - as far as writing 50k words in the month. But they were completed in very different ways. The first one was planned pretty well and completed within a framework. This was relatively easy to do as the story was timed to take place over a set number of months, making it easy to split into bite size chunks. The follow up was much more random. I had tried to plan it, but it didn't work. I couldn't get it to flow within the framework. Once I took the brakes off and went full on
pantser I finally got going and things fell into place to allow the story to be told.

So although I've lost three days and done next to nothing in the way of planning I probably lost more days in 2018 due to getting stuck. This one is full on pantser so I can't get stuck in terms of writing against a plan - I just may get stuck due to writing myself into a corner or two. We shall see. I haven't got a proper name for the project but for now, for no good reason, it's titled 'History Lessons' - wish me luck.

Anyway, as of November 4th noon, I have no words on my project and and I guess 4,800 words behind. Better get to it then.
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All Day Football: Or Not

On Saturday it was 50:50 whether I’d be off. They are usually short on weekends which meant they may have needed me, but as I’d done five consecutive days anyway it would mean I would be off on Sunday anyway (not permitted to work seven consecutive days). I was easy about being off on Saturday or Sunday either way. In normal times (sorry) I’d always take the day off that the Liverpool match fell on so I could watch the game down the pub with a few mates. But the city is in Tier 3 currently, meaning the only pubs open are foody ones, where you need to buy a ‘main’ meal with a drink - in addition you can’t meet with anyone not in your household (or bubble).

So on Friday night I looked into getting the football in the event I was ‘spared’.  I mean it was quite attractive to be off. I could get a few beers and maybe a pizza in and make it a whole day of football with:

West Ham v Man City
Barcelona v Real Madrid
Man Utd v Chelski
Liverpool v Sheffield Utd

It’d be great.

I don’t have Sky Sports though - too bloody expensive (and normally I’d be watching the game with friends in a local hostelry). I do have BT for this month, which I only got on Tuesday to be able to watch the Liverpool European games during our Tier 3 lockdown - it's £25 for a month. First off I thought I could get a Day Pass and watch the Liverpool game, but no. It was on Sky Box Office i.e. it’s one of the additional matches not originally taken up by the TV companies - which is dearer to get than one that was chosen: go figure. 

At lunch time the Man City game was on BT Sport, which was okay for me, this one month. Then there was El Classico on at 3pm. I thought maybe that was on BT, but no, it’s on a Premier Sport package just showing the Spanish League - which costs £5.99

The Man Utd match was on ‘normal’  Sky Sports. I could get a day pass for Now TV.... however (as someone who hasn’t looked into getting the footy before) I discovered that you cant watch NowTV via Sky or on an Amazon Firestick, so I’d end up having to  watch it on an iPad. I was not going to  pay £10 to watch a match on my iPad in front of a perfectly good, but ultimately useless, TV. Then there was that Liverpool match on Box Office.  FFS.

On Friday evening I had initially been quite looking forward to having Saturday off and watching four games in a day for the first time in many a year. However I would have to spend over £55 to watch these matches (would have been over £40 if I hadn’t already succumbed to BT Sport for the Euro games)  - and I’d have had to watch one of the games on a bloody mobile device. Ridiculous.

Roll on the end of Tier 3 restrictions when we can spend time with some mates and have a few beers in a nice friendly environment - and spend less than £55* in the process. 


Incidentally as it happened I ended up working on Saturday, but was given a really short route and got back mid afternoon (in time for El Classico). Sod’s Law dictated that the only game I could have watched without paying more for was the City game at lunchtime.  That’s life. Oh and the results as a Liverpool fan were great; Liverpool winning (2-1), and City, Man Utd, Chelski all dropping points. 

* Of course if you weren't in a lockdown you could invite someone around and share the burden. But if you weren't in a tiered lockdown you'd be watching it down the pub.
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Strange Weekend, Again

Another strange weekend, but aren't they all? At work on Friday I went from having work, to not having work (euphemistically called being 'spared' in the gig economy), then being told I could have have a route - due to drivers not being given all their parcels, to then being told just to deliver to the drivers that didn't have them. So I nipped out to Queensferry, Neston and Great Sutton to deliver the bags of to three unsuspecting drivers - who hadn't been informed that they didn't have the bags and they were on the way (grrr).

On the positive side it allowed me to get to Neptune brewery to pick up some beer for the weekend. You've got to support your locals during these difficult times - and it helps that the locals these days are so damn good. I'd asked for Saturday off as I had a lot on: judging with @voimaoy on FFF, watching the derby at lunchtime, and Open Mic in the evening. Picked up the last mini-keg (5l) of 'Abyss', which was a result and two pints of Equinox for the Friday. Roll on Saturday!

Um… Then I got a text asking me to confirm for Saturday. I rang and told them I was off for the judging (and footy). They said they had no record of me being off and that they had me down as in. Argh! You can't turn down the work really though. And it's not like I could go out to watch the game with Liverpool being in a Tier 3 lockdown. Said if they were short I'd work but asked them to put me down as first to be spared if there was a volume cut overnight.

Then a call. 'Can you help out with a driver who was sent out late? Take 40 drops off him and you'll get a full day pay.' Two to three hours work by the time I got from Maghull to Warrington. Then it was thrown in that they could 'almost guarantee' if I did it that I could have Saturday off. That was the clincher. So after waking up to find I had work then didn't, then did. Well I got home at the same time as usual - around 7:30pm after a messy day.

On Friday evening I looked into getting a pass for my TV on Saturday to watch the Everton v Liverpool game. Unfortunately it was on BT not Sky, and they don't do Day Passes. I'd have to buy a Month Pass. But I realised that on the plus side BT have the European games so with the lockdown meaning I wouldn't be able to catch them any other way (legally) £25 for a month of football wasn't so bad (3 Liverpool European matches in the month). I didn't get it though: just in case the unlikely event of me working on the Saturday came to pass.

LandlockedYT

Well surprise! Saturday came and so did the text asking me to confirm I was in. So much for the promise; was never going to happen. Anyway I confirmed but asked for as small a route as they could find so I could get back and read the stories for Flash Friday. To be fair they did give me a short route. Got back for around 2:30pm.

Meanwhile Liverpool seemingly lost to Everton the way their fans celebrated. But on checking all the press it was a 2-2 draw. Henderson scored a perfectly good goal in injury time ruled out by VAR because presumably someone pressed the wrong one of two buttons (we've all done it). And worse still the Everton keeper, T-Rex, had nobbled our serene man mountain, Virgil van Dijk. It turned out by Sunday that he may well miss the entire season as a result of that unpunished assault. Breathe in. Breathe out.

So I missed the game. And it was a good derby in many ways, but awful in others.

FFF photo1
Fire & Ice Prompt: Sol 10/19

In the afternoon it was time to get on and read tehstories that 35 people had written for FFF. The remit was a tough one. Using the photo prompt and the Ice or Fire inclusion the story needed to be exactly 89 words. Tough. I picked my top ten after a couple of passes and my co-conspirator did. From there by Sunday we sorted our winners, honourable and special mentions out. I still don't know who has won and will wait until the Dragons put up the results later. Wondering how many Flash Dogs make the cut again after a good showing last time.

Later on Saturday I discovered that the Open Mic, which I'd been told would be regularly every fortnight (and our last one was two weeks ago), wasn't happening. Argghhh! All in all my Saturday's plans were in tatters.

But at least I still had my Neptune 'Abyss'.

On Sunday in lieu of the Open Mic I played a song I haven't done before, 'Landlocked Blues' by Bright Eyes. I recorded a version of it and put it up on YouTube. Hoping it will prove the start of me doing new songs to me; maybe a couple more Bright Eyes and a Frank Turner or two. We shall see.

Anyway all in all the weekend proved to be very different from that planned. How could it not with the lockdown - and the gig economy - being what it is? Probably still get the BT Pass so I can watch the European games whilst we are tied to our homes. And I've no idea who our centre back pairing will be.
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Flash Aa..arrgh!

It's Friday which means it's Flash Friday Fiction day. Yay! However I won't be writing for it this week as, along with @voimaoy, I'm tasked this weekend with picking the best stories. It's the second of three occasions we are teamed for it. It is an honour - and is always a difficult too. Bring on your magic, people.

FireAndIce

… and this week it is full on Shake's length stories only. Yep, just EIGHTY NINE words. Do you darnedest. We're both looking forward to it.

FlashFridayFictionPic1
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Over A Month

Shockingly, for me, it has been over a month since I wrote a blog - I usually write between 5-8 a month. The thing is it seems I wrote the last one a few days ago. I mean, it was before my birthday, for crying out loud. Time has just been playing the strangest tricks. I've really just been working throughout this period, with a bit of reading, a little writing, catching some footy on the TV, and less guitar than there should have been.

The highlight of the last week was the surprise return of the (Zoom) Open Mic last Saturday - I only found out about it on the day. There were only six of us online for it but it was great to be back. Social interaction with a few mates and a bit of singing - with a glass of beer - it was ace.

Anyway, there will be more blogging from this point on. I may even put it in my diary to ensure even these horrendous time slips don't stop me again. See you soon.
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