Tag Archives: fashion

New glasses make me feel old…

Phil: It’s that time again – the time when I have to choose some new glasses.

Sadly, the opticians aren’t able to sell me the same design of frames as I’ve enjoyed for the last two pairs so my “strong personal brand” needs to change slightly (Yes – strong personal brand, not me being too much of a wuss to go for something different) but this isn’t the biggest shock.

I’ve noticed for a few months that close-up work has been a bit of a challenge and have even resorted to taking my specs off for some of it. It seems that great age has caught up with me and I’m suffering from presbyopia, or the loss of elasticity in the lens. Basically, I need reading glasses.

This is the beginning of a slow decline obviously. Next time, those glasses will be hanging on a chain around my neck and the ones I normally wear will become the ones I peer over the top of when talking to people. After this, it’s a slippery slope to shopping in M&S and wearing cardigans…

Better get back to the writing before all my critical faculties give up on me!

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No, you are NOT wearing a codpiece!

cuecardwritingPhil: The big day is here. I spent yesterday evening sat in a coffee shop writing my cue cards.  We’ve four each, which seems a very small number until you realise that we’ll only have 3 minutes 45 seconds for each. We’re going to have to talk fast…

By now, every surface of Nolan towers will be covered in clothes as decisions are taken on the most suitable outfit for presenting at a literature festival.

In this respect, I have things easy. Men, especially authors, aren’t judged on what they wear.

It being the 400th anniversary of ma homeboy Billy S’s death, I wondered if I should mark the occasion by dressing in full doublet and hose. Checking the fashion press, it seems that “doublets were padded over the belly with bombast in a “pouter pigeon” or “peascod” silhouette” and what with that being my natural shape, it seemed a look ripe for a comeback.

I checked with my fashion advisor and asked where I might purchase the required codpiece, not being familiar with stores stocking high fashion.

An e-mail response told me I am not wearing traditional Shakespeare costume. Something to do with an unpleasent mental picture.

So, it’s back to the wardrobe to see if I can find anything with leather elbow patches.

Of course, if you want to see what we did wear, and more importantly, pick up some suggestions on how writing as a team could help you complete your novel, get yourself down to:

New Voices – Romantic Comedy at the Stratford Artshouse 3pm today!

 

 

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Dress to impress

Candice:  I’ve had an interview for an internal post in the last week.  Its been a strange experience as I am used to going for external jobs and not telling any one about it until afterwards.  But this was the worst kept secret.

So Thursday lunch time sees me sat in the reception of a local hotel waiting for the call to go up.  I’m watching Andy Murray, who happens to win his match while I am waiting which I can only take as a good sign.

I found about the details of the interview on my return from holiday. I knew it was coming but it was still a strange week last week.  Once I knew venue, times and the fact I had to do a presentation, did I spend hours pouring over this?  No I went out to buy a new outfit.

Like the protagonist in our book, who uses her clothes as armour to protect her from the outside world, I have to be dressed right or I don’t feel right. Kate uses her designer wardrobe to create a persona which means nothing and no-one can get in her way.

In my case, it’s not quite as net-a-porter as Kate’s wardrobe but I did go to the interview with my Mulberry Alexa.  The dress, however. was only Yumi but it was just as essential in the equation.  I bought two dresses and then ransacked my wardrobe, but in the 29 degree heat there were only certain things that would cut it.

So why all the drama for an outfit?  I think its more of a girl thing than a boy thing but I have to feel comfortable, whether its presentation or interview, if I don’t like what I am wearing then I don’t come across as well or feel as confident.  Whatever works is my motto, so new outfit it is.  The worst comes when you can’t find that perfect something – then you get even more worked up!

I’m waiting to hear the results but I think it went well, and I felt like the bee’s knees in my dress.

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How to write Chick Lit – Part 2

Candice:  Ok, so Phil’s done his research.  Probably abit arse about face as we have already written the book, but its a good way to shape this group of 80,000 words into something that a nice publisher might like, based on his reading experience.  However, there is something fundamental missing in his experience, he’s not a girl.  I suspect that’s why ‘Cat’ went down better than ‘Flawless’, but that was part of the test.

I also liked ‘Cat’ more than ‘Flawless’, and I’m the audience I think we are aiming this book at.  Not someone who wants soppy rubbish, but a woman with a brain who wants escapism but realism.  As Neil has commented, people have real experience of the Tour de France, unlike the high flying world of gems and castles.  None of us can understand that so its chance at grabbing us might fade.  I suppose it’s also a bit like the programs I like to watch. Give me ‘Buffy’, ‘Lost Girl’ or ‘Fringe’, set in reality but with escapist moments, rather than ‘Star Trek’ which I have no interest in at all.

So where to now?  Does Phil need to put on a dress and feel some relationship angst.  Um, no, that’s why he’s part of this writing partnership because he brings the Male to FeMale.  He’s the comedy buffer to my comments on shoes and handbags.  Though he does like a good Peplum….

I feel that more research is never enough in this case.  As you followers know I am always reading books, and each one helps to shape how I might approach our writing.  But I still think we need to tackle the other two areas we have set ourselves: submission of short stories (one written and just needing final tweaks), and attending a writing group (mainly for research as I not sure it is our thing, too much navel gazing).

Now I have surfaced from under a few weeks madness at work its time to do the final polish on our horror short and get it sent.  And maybe, if you guys are lucky, we might let you read it too…

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Mr Kelly

Fish TieAndrew looked at the faces of the crowd before him. Everyone was a mixture of misery and defeat. Hardly surprising as he had just announced that the Horticultural Investigation Agency, the vegetable research centre where they all worked, was to close.

Phil: Last week, Candice explained how much of our book is a mix, albeit an exaggerated one, of experiences we have had working in various places. The same applies to the characters who will bear some relation to real people. Not partially close relationship most of the time (I should say that for legal reasons this applies especially to the bad ones), but creating a person out of thin area is impossible. You are bound to use elements of real people.

Andrew Livingstone is a good example. In the story he is head of the Horticulture Investigation Agency and as it opens, he is charged with telling everyone the government is going to close them down.

The scene is inspired by being stood in the crowd watching someone explain how our quango was to be closed down. The man doing the talking wasn’t the man we saw. It was Mr Kelly. Sort of.

Back in the dim and distant past, in an era before the Interweb was invented, I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I was the lowest of the low – you spoke to me about having your cows tested for TB or Brucellosis. Eventually, after a combination of hard work and being in the right place at the right time, I was the man you spoke to if your cow was a bit wobbly and you thought it might have BSE. I was truly a friend to the sons of the soil. (I didn’t just do cows, if you found a bat you called me as well but I just rang one of my contacts to get it taken away.)

Mr Kelly was the Divisional Veterinary Officer for our little office. He was a really lovely bloke. The sort of person you want to do your best for because he would appreciate it rather than because he would yell at you if you didn’t. Never obviously ambitious, he had ascended to the lofty heights of being in charge of our little office after a career in honest government service. With only a couple of years to go to retirement he had seen it all and spoken to most it too. If we had a difficult customer, he would deal with them and calm the situation. We didn’t need this skill very often but you never knew when it might be handy – an earlier occupant of the post had managed to leave a circus with a broken nose after getting off on the wrong foot. I suspect Mr Kelly would have sorted things out and probably been offered free tickets.

In my head, when I wrote Andrews parts, I pictured Mr Kelly. He would have been very upset to have to deliver the news and yet everyone would have felt for him even as he was telling them they were heading for the scrap-heap. It wasn’t his fault.

A character who is completely nice doesn’t make for interesting reading, so Andrew is also wily when required, just like his real life counterpart. He isn’t taking things lying down and has in a mind a way to fight back. As the plot progresses, his plan is revealed – although I won’t tell you if it is succesful, you’ll have to wait until we get published for that ! (Why not write to you MP demanding this ?). He also has to deal with a bit of transgression by the staff and instead of getting upset, takes the situation and uses it to his best advantage.

This last part caused a bit of discussion between us. Without giving too much away, something is found that shouldn’t be there. Candice assumed Andrew would have known about it and thus would be unhappy about its discovery. I knew that Mr Kelly would have been surprised and disappointed about it but since he wasn’t a control freak he would just put it down to young people doing what they do. However he would then have turned a potential disaster into a triumph. This would have been done very calmly and pragmatically.

So that is what happened.

What’s this got to do with the fish picture ? Well, as I say, it was a long time ago. Required to wear a tie in the office, I developed a taste for more unusual decoration. Mr Kelly saw this the first time I wore it and quietly asked that I brought it out again on his last day when we were due to have a retirement party. I wasn’t sure about this but did as requested. During his speech he ran through everyone in the office making some polite and complimentary comments about them. Getting to me he mentioned my lurid neckwear and something along the lines “…and judging from his latest tie, he appears to be joining the Fisheries division.”

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