Tag Archives: 1980s

When I was a kid, we had boxes not #plasticbags…

midlife

I don’t get the upset about the loss a bag. A wispy, fly away plastic piece of tracing paper. In this world of trauma, of a heart breaking refuge crisis, of poverty and war and downright injustice, it’s odd how we are up in arms over bags of shopping that hold our loo roll and mince.

This week in England large shops and supermarket chains have started charging customers 5p for large carrier bags, hauling them in line with other parts of the UK that have had charges for several years. And boy, oh boy is there an uproar. But,  why? When I was a kid, there was a minimum supply of plastic bags. Sure, back in the early 80s there was minimum everything – good TV,  phones that didn’t dial right round,  pizzas that weren’t sold in towers of tens – but hey, we had arms and legs and we were good at carrying boxes – yes, children, old fruit boxes – of food up the hill because if you carried a bustle of plastic bags four miles home, then you’d have no skin left on your palms by the time you got there.

Mercifully, a fair good few on Twitter have reacted with humour:

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But then there are the moaners….

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It’s mad as cheese. It’s just a bag, so get used to change people of England, just like we had to all the time growing up. Recycle, use a bag for life – France have been doing that for years. You can’t even buy a plastic bag over there, and god forbid if you make the catastrophic mistake of asking the woman at the till for one. They are VERY good at deathly stares.

Sadly, though, rather like the format of the XFactor, some things don’t change, no matter how many years we have under out belt.  In this case, we’re talking about our blessed national newspapers. Yep, if they were to be believed, you’d think the humble plastic bag was a  terrorist attack waiting to happen.  It’s nuts.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with this – actual front pages of today’s Daily Mail and Daily Mirror… Quick! There’s a plastic bag. Run. For. Your. Lives…

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What do you think? Post your thoughts below…

Diary of a hopeful author: How I write to Snow Patrol

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was fifteen I wanted a personal stereo. I used to watch anyone else that had one and feel envious of their headphones plonked on their heads like a steel crown. The earpieces were foam circles, little pieces of squashy heaven that transmitted music for your own amusings without anyone else being able to hear.

When I eventually got one following a long, hard campaign to my mum (poor woman), I was made up. You never saw me. I was lost in a world of tinny 80s music; Madonna’s Material Girl and Kajagoogoo were my friends. It was the best thing ever. Fifteen and switched off from the world.

Anyone’s who’s seen a fifteen year old will know switched off is common, much like tutting is common to those over 40. We all switch off (and tut) of course. We can’t help it. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s essential. This week, switching off while I write has been the way to roll. But, since I’m not fifteen anymore and therefore not living in a 3-bed with my brother and sister fighting over whose turn it is to be last in the re-used bath water, I can do what I like. And that means music.

Technology, much like my age, has moved on. Now we have iPods and boy do I like to use ours. TVs moved on, too – i.e. you can watch it on your iPad on catch up – which means the Ian Rankin Imagine programme on BBC2 I mentioned last week has been an inspiration again this time round. You see, when Ian writes, he switches on some music first. But it ain’t just any old jingle. Nope. When Ian Rankin writes his books, he listens to the same tunes. I know, I sat up at this point and listened too.

You see, what he does is play the same band on his CD player and when he hears that music it signals him to write. It switches on, if you will, his writing button. Bit like hearing an ice-cream van and being catapulted into childhood. Or the dentist’s chair. Whichever.

So, I thought I’d give Rankin’s roll a whirl, just with more technology. Shunning CDs and selecting an iPod, this week I have been working on novel number 2 to 90% Snow Patrol and 10% Stone Roses. And do you know, it works.  Who knew? Normally, if you remember maybe from an earlier blog post of mine, I’d write to episodes of 24 on Love Film.com, and while this is fun, it’s not always productive. All the more made a nightmare by the fact that I have an Xmas deadline for editing this darn book. Bottom line: I have to FOCUS. Holy Jesus.

So thank the lordy lord that Snow Patrol is working for me. The foam circles from my personal stereo of the 80s have been replaced with little buds that slide out when I move, but hey ho. When the music’s on, my mind does this shift thing where I am instantly thinking like the main character. And, given that main character has just had a sex change (in a way…), this is a vital focussy type thing.

I am now over half way through the edit. Hold me to this, won’t you. Get on my case. I have to finish this thing by Christmas, at which point I will switch off from everything. Accept this time, no longer being fifteen, it’ll be with (several) sherries.  When I was fifteen, it was spirits siphoned from my mate Antonia’s parents’ drinks cupboard. Don’t ask.

If you want to catch the Imagine show with Ian Rankin, I’ve popped on the BBC iPlayer link Click here >>

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the why I just don’t get what youth centres are for…**