A.J. Walker

writerer

Buxton Beers

Had a very enjoyable trip to Buxton on Saturday, on a real ale trip arranged by the Wirral branch of CAMRA. Visited some lovely pubs and had a few great pints — including my beloved 'Jaipur', and another Thornbridge 'Crackendale' and some great Redwillow 'Faithless 108' (in the Redwillow Tap, surprisingly).

Cheshire Cheese
Cheshire Cheese

Buxton is an attractive town, quite similar in appearance to Harrogate — which I guess shouldn't be surprising given the location and age of the towns (and of course the similar geology). It's not a big walk around the town centre, but there are plenty of nice pub and bar options. I went to eight pubs.

Jaipur
Thornbridge 'Jaipur'

Faithless 108
Redwillow 'Faithless 108'

If you're considering visiting the town I can thoroughly recommend it.

Crackendale
Thornbridge 'Crackendale'

Redwillow
Redwillow Tap
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Open Mic & a Return to Ale Trips

It was Open Mic again yesterday in the Sanctuary and once again I made an appearance. We were shifted downstairs, as upstairs was occupied for some Light Night shenanigans, and just being in a different room makes it feel like a different 'gig'. In another effort to make it different I was not wearing a checked shirt for the first time here. In a shocking turn up I had one my 2012 Frank Turner Wembley T-Shirt.

OpenMicFTHC

Ollie was there again, so I made it up for my songs second again.

I ended up doing five songs:

  • Somewhere Down the Road
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn
  • Whiskey in My Whiskey
  • Down By the Water
  • The Flushing Song

The first two by Chuck Prophet, the third by Felice Brothers and the fourth by Decemberists… and the fifth… yep, that was the one I wrote last week. So I've performed a self penned song for the first time in over two decades (the last one was a similarly daft ditty: 'Stood Up, Deffed Out and Desperate' which I don't remember all the words or the chords for. It was a Saw Doctors style pastiche with some interesting lyrics). Anyway, The Flushing Song went down pretty well, and I was glad I gave it a go.

OpenMicCheersFTHC

Afterwards one of the regular attendees commented that she was becoming familiar with my songs, after not knowing them previously, and that she enjoyed them. That was nice to hear. My next task, other than practicing the damn guitar, is to try and write a song that's not just tongue in cheek. Then again a few Loudon Wainwright III style songs wouldn't be a bad destination either.

Onwards and upwards.

In other news, tomorrow I am going on my first CAMRA real ale trip for many months. I used to go on every Liverpool branch CAMRA coach trip, which are undertaken on a roughly monthly basis, but have stopped going as a stand against their move to booking through Eventbrite. That decision was frustrating as it disenfranchised so many of the regular trip goers - who maybe didn't want to start paying for things online (put it this way, I am part of the younger demographic on the trips). So tomorrow I am going on a trip to Buxton with the Wirral branch, who in any case pick up at the same place as the Liverpool branch (only difference is that it's 15 minutes earlier).

Looking forward to the trip. Buxton is a nice place and, as it happens, one of my favourite beers I've had this week was Buxton Brewery's SPA on cask in the Grapes.

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Flashing

Recently the National Flash Fiction Day "Flash Flood" guys and gals were looking for flash fiction for their annual event. I submitted three stories over three days — none were selected (insert sad face). Not bothered, I've been up there several years and as everything sent was "off the shelf" it wasn't like I put any effort into it — also saw plenty of good writers who failed to get chosen this year. But it did show me something, as I looked on my hard drive for stories to submit: I have fewer flashes from this year than I have from few years ago.

Peak flashing was back in the hey day of Flash Fiction Friday and Angry Hourglass. With the demise of these I have certainly written for challenges less frequently, but the other reason I have fewer more recent stories is that I have got into a bad habit of not saving my work. I mean, I've submitted stories on Microcosms and other sites (including the Seedling Challenge) and then not saved the story to my computer. Seemingly, in my head, the stories are written and out there and I don't need to keep them myself. Not sure when, or why, I came up with that idea.

Anyway, in future I will be saving all my wee stories, be they little bits of nonsense or pure unadulterated brilliance. Who knows, maybe next year I'll get in Flash Flood with a piece I've written this year; one I've saved and not had to search for online.

It also highlights why I need to complete the Seedling Challenge each week (and not just because I put the idea out there). It's only half an hour a week and there's the chance that one, or more, goes from being a VSS365 to a Seedling Challenge story, then who knows maybe onwards and upwards to a fuller story.

#amwriting
#keepwriting
#amsaving

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Flush The Floater

Started writing a daft song yesterday and this is it as it stands now - yes, it's up on YouTube already. Needs a bit of tidying, but okay for first writing in decades. Hope it comes across okay. If I finish it off properly, who knows, it may get a try out at the Open Mic sometime soon.

Flush

Save the planet, people. But don't stress to much about the floater — flush when you need to.
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Books, Books, Book

Just finished 'Crome Yellow' by Aldous Huxley. An enjoyable romp published in 1921, and not at all indicative of the Brave New World (1932) to come - though there was some postulation by Mr. Barbecue-Smith in one chapter which did include some thoughts in that direction.

15 Books

Been an excellent selection of reads so far from some top authors and a few classics too. Can't fault the authors to date:

  • Aldous Huxley
  • J.M Barrie
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Frank Herbert
  • Edward Brook-Hitching
  • William Dalrymple
  • Jack Vance
  • Frederik Pohl
  • Ursula Le Guin
  • Ben Aaronovitch
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Stephen King
  • James Barr

Next up will probably be the Iain M. Banks 'The State of the Art'

I've picked up rather a few books lately from charity and second-hand bookshops, and I probably should swerve visiting any more for a while now - I am in no danger of being short of reading materials for the rest of the year; or probably the next one too. But it's hard not to go in and take a look, isn't it?

After submitting the edited version of the 'Don't Open the Door' short story I will get back on to writing my own book: The Wobbly Odyssey.
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This, That and The Other

Been making some edits to my story for the Don't Open the Door anthology, no spoilers but hell, of course they open the bloody door! Hoping to finish that off tomorrow and then give it a final brush on Sunday and get it to the editor. Should be a tighter story when I've finished it.

Had a bit of sad news that I didn't get selected for the Pulp Idol final. It was a bit of a shame, but, after the IT cock-up meant I never got the invite to the heats, I was expecting it anyway. I'd recorded a reading of the first three minutes of the first chapter and put that up on YouTube for a judgment to be made, not ideal but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Doesn't change anything about the novel, and once I've got the Door story sorted I will get back on to it and finish it. I want to know what happens in the end after all.

Considering some alterations to the website, with a new section or two. Should get at least one of the ideas up and running this week. Watch this space (or maybe the menu bar).

Talking of the website, of course tomorrow the weekend starts, so it's time for the Seedling Challenge. I've been religiously putting it up each week so that it's been there to be used by anyone who wants to, but I know I need to push it a bit more. So be prepared to be pushed - at least if you're exposed to Twitter in any way.

At some point I'm going to start writing some songs, now that I'm playing the guitar more regularly. I'm still surprised that the songs that I've been playing aren't known by the other guys at the open mic. But they are all of a type I suppose, and if I write in a similar style (or at least perform them that way) then there's every chance they won't know what's mine and what's someone else's. We'll see. If I start doing my own stuff then I can pop along to the Monday Night Club at the Cavern and play a tune or two (they only allow people playing their own stuff). Now that would be cool, wouldn't it?

Currently reading 'Crome Yellow' by Aldous Huxley, which I bought last week as part of a charity shop haul. I've only read Brave New World by Huxley before (which I loved), and this is so very different but enjoyable. It's my fifteenth read of the year, which puts me on track for the forty.

What with website updates, short stories and novel writing, reading, guitar practice and songwriting, it's a wonder there's time for anything else. Then there's football tomorrow night and Tuesday and then next Sunday (not to mention an important match on Monday night). Oh, God, and there's Line of Duty on Sunday. Clearly there's not enough hours in the day or days in the week. If any of the political parties yesterday could have promised to sort out the 'not enough hours' issue they'd have got my vote.

Anyways, ta-ra for now, I'm getting back to Crome.
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Whiskey in my Whiskey

Ollie turned up about 2 hours late (due to a job interview; poor excuse), which meant the normal opening act was not available. As the guy that normally comes on second it was therefore up to me to move down the list, which seemed fair enough. Whilst I'm still trying to get better an early relaxed little session is a a good thing.

Ended up playing five songs:

  • Somewhere Down the Road (Chuck Prophet)
  • Down by the Water (Decemberists)
  • Whiskey in my Whiskey (Felice Brothers)
  • Heart Breaks Like the Dawn (Chuck P)
  • Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams)

Bobo came on next playing a couple of his bluesy tunes, followed by the newest father of the night: Dave Jones (congrats, new dad!).

Usual suspects followed including Matt Author with a new story.

Open Mic X

There were some off mic incidents involving a collapsing woman, and a birthday girl downing an impressive quantity of rum and coke. A couple of great singalongs; including my fave Queen song: 'Don't Stop Me Now'

Roll on the next Open Mic. Always great.

Open Mic XI

The highlight for me was two people independently coming to me and saying 'Great Set.' I mean, I have 'a set?' Let alone a good one. I've gotta be happy with that. And I am.

Thanks to Bobo and John for organising the night, and Dave tonight for the use of his guitar. And Bobo, once more, for the up-close-and-personal photos.


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