Thank you for visiting this blog site. It's mainly writing-related posts including thoughts, tips, info and psychological aspects of writing. If you felt like following, well that would be great.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

I don't belong to Glasgow - but I could.

It was odd being away from social media for five days, but thanks very much to those who noticed I was missing. Flew up to Glasgow from Southampton to celebrate the OM's birthday, and stayed in a great apartment in the Merchant City area of central Glasgow.

Glasgow is famous for many things, not least the fantastic array of Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed houses, furniture, school, clocks and so on, together with the coordinating designs by his wife Margaret. No idea why this stuff sets off pleasure parts of the brain, but it does (for me anyway). I had to be torn away from the decor at the Willow Tea Rooms in Buchanan Street, still glancing back over my shoulder as we left. I recall once a Mackintosh designed teaspoon from there was sold on an antiques programme by Anita Manning of the Great Western Auction rooms in Glasgow for an amazing sum. The Glasgow School of Art is a great centre of focus; unfortunately the students' final year exhibition was being installed and so most of the school was out of bounds. I bought several things, though, including a postcard with a photo of a set of Mackintosh cutlery. Oddly lovely.

At the other end of the scale is the Barras fleamarket. The concierge gave us a strange look when we said were were going. Then we found out why. Although there's an occasional antique (e.g. a rusty and very old Marmet pram), most items can be described only as junk, from dirty worn-out shoes to (literal) bundles of rags. It was desperate to see what people were trying to sell, and even more desperate (for them) that no-one was interested.

Other impressions include: high proportion of people smoking in the street, huge number of restaurants, lack of antique shops, very windy, people very cheerful and friendly, plenty of sniffing, men frequently belching in the street, especially mid-morning (maybe diet?), but wonderful Victorian architecture and a wealth of great art in museums and galleries. Last but not least, the excellent Glasgow Police Museum, where an enthusiastic ex-copper guided us around and proved an excellent host.

Don't know whether to be glad or sorry that we saw neither hide nor hair of a deep-fried Mars Bar. A great trip, however, with so many visual memories

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Twitter the Seductress, and Other Things

Twitter must be the great seductress of our time. (I think female.)  She lures us in, so that she can take from us our time, and then our money as she persuades us to buy books, cheesecake, tools, jewellery, and anything else in tweets in our timeline.

I can't be alone in not wanting to 'miss something important'. This means I return time and time again to Twitter to keep up with the timeline and make sure I scan everything there. Then there are links - who can resist the pictures of pet cats and dogs (I can't) or the clamped car with graffiti on it: "F***ing Keep It"? On the positive side, I have found the odd writing opportunity and have won a few prizes, too, as a reward for monitoring.

The last four books I have bought have been written or edited by writers whom I follow on Twitter. It's a great marketing tool;  friendly tweets modestly mention their latest book, give quotes from it, and make it really easy to buy, interspersed with some fun and maybe interesting personal revelations. Then other authors praise the book. In the end, I may decide to order - though impressions must be accurate, since I seem always to enjoy the books and can then write a good review. Interestingly, though, authors whose tweets are never conversational or amusing, but almost always just impersonally promote their book, can have the opposite effect.

Twitter sucks us in to respond to other people's questions and comments, and to show appreciation. Then we return to see if we have a reply, or we investigate those followed by our favourites, and add them to our ever-growing list. And oh, the guilt at unfollowing (except for irrelevant businesses such as tarpaulin loans). Thus Twitter feeds on us, which makes it grow continually. A winning formula indeed.

And "in other news", I have now received the set of posh pans as the prize for my star letter in June Sainsbury's Magazine, and have entered another writing comp. My commissioned article on sleep is researched and ready to write, and other pitches are planned. And the set lunch at Rasraj restaurant, Oxford Street, Southampton is organic, very nice, and only £5.95. My first foodie note for ages.