writers

Lights on at 10.30am?

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Yep, it’s that dark. I have both lamps on here in the living room. Dark, foreboding sky and all that malarkey. If this was ‘in the bleak mid-winter’ in old Blighty I could say that’s normal. But New York in July? I ask you… And it’s raining torrentially outside. Heavy, flood-worthy torrents. A good day to catch up on TV and drink coffee 🙂

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Chicken Road retreat is a plague house

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cropped-chickenrd2.jpgWe are all sick, even Flossy the wondercat is ill. Worryingly, all but me are suffering the same malady – even the cat; vomiting and… the other thing. I just have a head cold from sitting on an airplane with 300 people for 8 hours. But I digress.  We should have a large bell ringing outside and someone calling ‘unclean! unclean!’ Or maybe paint a big red cross on the door and the words ‘Lord have mercy on us!’ Whereupon, according to Maize in her article ‘The Plague House’, people called ‘searchers of the dead’ would lock us inside for 40 days!

What?

With no wine or cat food? Perish the thought…

I’m starting to feel better, honest!

My memory was virtually Zero…

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It’s now about 700 somethings, no idea what: ram, bits, MB, who knows? But it is better than nothing, or zero, take your pick, and it means my little (almost given up for dead and thrown through the window in a fit of rage) computer, is now usable again.  Hurrah!

Gremlins are in the machine again, I’m sure of it. Hijacked then hacked!

For a long time now, my little ASUS Eee laptop has mournfully displayed an ‘out of virtual memory’ error message when ever I tried to do, well, absolutely anything with it.

Why on Earth would I have such a teeny tiny laptop you ask? For travel and general skulking in cafes. Not wanting to cart my heavy and at purchase, expensive mac around, I opted for this little option, about the size of a good book, really handbag sized, and preloaded with skype and a stripped down version of MS office (MS Works?) for my travels a few years back. And of course those new fangled tablet thingies came out right after my purchase, but I digress.

Anyhoo, after breaking a loaner laptop (it really wasn’t my fault) I was forced to deal with this memory issue on the ASUS Eee.

I at first believed that my little laptop was infested with viruses so I attempted to download Microsoft Essentials virus protection which first required I remove the old anti-virus software. SCARY! And wouldn’t you know, the MS Essentials would not update leaving my dinky laptop in danger. Why? Zero virtual memory.

Now I am not the most technical of people when it comes to fixing computers (although I did successfully manage to change the battery on my IPod with the help of Youtube), but necessity being the mother of invention, I scoured the internet for solutions until I cam across this:

http://sparktrust.com/lowvirtualmemory?gclid=CNTAh6aXhrYCFabLtAodYW4A6Q

just scroll down to the section entitled “How do I fix Low Virtual Memory problems?” and follow the instructions. If you have a ‘normal’  laptop of course, which I don’t, naturally. So I couldn’t find ‘properties’ using their step by step guide. Instead, I had to root around my files like a good old rummage in a dusty attic. However, I prevailed, found the setting that needed to be changed and no wonder I had no virtual memory – it was set to zero! More evidence of Gremlin activity if you ask me. It has been changed. I now have virtual memory. Microsoft Security Essentials has successfully updated and is now running a complete scan of my little computer. I am virus free AND my dinky laptop actually works!

Ahhhh! I am utterly joyful. So joyful in fact that I may have to scamper off to the shops and buy a bottle of wine and a big fat CAKE  in order to celebrate my glorious achievement over technology. And it’s only Monday! As you know, Happy Tuesday here on Chicken Road is the day we traditionally imbibe the fruit of the vine, but today’s victory must be marked; preferably with a nice bottle of Shiraz.

It will help my anticipated shock when the lap top repair quotes come in for the other broken laptop that I didn’t break really…

Friday Flashback – The Haunting of ‘The Club’

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There is a building in Edinburgh where a basilisk prowls the halls, where spectres lurk and doctoral students shirk. Sorry, this Friday Flashback is not about the worlds largest reclining buddha or a mighty pyramid but something more precious and ephemeral; The Club. A place, a time and a group of people. The place was Edinburgh University, the time 2007-2012 and the people were The Club and shall remain nameless to preserve their anonymity and protect them against potential prosecution or worse, academic disgrace.

Our club was room 6.12 and perilously close to the lair of the basilisk. The basilisk was fearsome and could smell dead rats in the kitchen at 50 feet and yet trixy, luring the best of us into her chambers with no more than a beckoning finger or worse – chocolate. Most club members were retained in 6.12 but there were other members scattered along the hall of the 6th floor. The sixth floor… a level of genius, some say madness, of struggle against ones inner demons, where titans clashed, sherry sloshed, battles waged and writing was done. Or at least thought about. No, agonized over. Horribly and tortuously. One club member would write a sentence and then take all day to meticulously pick it apart word for word. Another examined prayer and song expressed through the roaring of lions and the trumpeting of elephants. Yet another would pick through people’s garbage and statistically, objectively, record it. And me? I wrote about a mole, from the moles perspective naturally. The only thing I picked at was a bag of bacon crispies.

ghostly

We shared many things in the club; our hopes, dark secrets, theories of about society, sugar donuts, and Baileys on a Friday afternoon. We zealously debated topics from religion to recycling, banking to self harm, civil society to sex, museums to adoption, and space… No, not the final frontier, but THE space, the space between the hands.

You see our concern was of a haunting. Not the physical haunting of a place, but a haunting of the imagination. Under the influence of another club member, I purchased a book, a book about a ghost, a book I shall not name because the book itself is complete and utter nonsense, and despite this, or perhaps because of it, the ideas triggered by the book took form. At first it was confusion over the nonsensical nature of it, which lapsed into jovial recitation of its most preposterous sentences which grew, twisting and writhing like pipe smoke, into references to which only club members were privy. We made sense out of nonsense. Fashioned form from smoke and mirrors, manifesting a ‘thing’ from the ether. A secret language imbued with meaning, and ‘the thing’ into a bond, as real as rope.

Ok, Ok it wasn’t all sober intellectual conversation, there was also conversation over spirits. Gin to be exact. Bombay Sapphire to be utterly precise. Well usually, although we could be persuaded to imbibe a little Hendrix on occasion. We patronised various haunts

dandelion

with Blind Poets and Under the Stairs and on occasion, sitting on a street corner outside No 56, and even an Old Bell.

Sadly, the writing is finished. The lions no longer roar, the rubbish has been collected and the Mole is dead. A breath in another universe blew on a

fuzzy dandelion  and like the seeds we have scattered to the far corners of the globe, some of us further than others. The Club as a time and a place has diminished, a mere spectre haunting the halls of memory. But ‘the thing’ remains, as real as rope.

And the basilisk? Rest assured, the basilisk still prowls the halls as trixy and treacherous as ever. And long may it continue…

Here comes the tuna woman!

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Flossy, our cat, has had an ear infection requiring yours truly to clean her ears and administer ear drops. Flossy is far from placid. It could be said she is a feline with some serious attitude. The kind that bites first, asks questions later. Fearing for my life and wanting to keep the skin on my hands and face, I did a little research to see if I could find out how best to get the ear drops in without losing a limb. I read an article on the internet advising a treat both before and after the drops so that the cat would associate getting the ear drops with getting a treat, sort of Pavlov’s dog, only Chicken Road cat. And you know what? It worked. For her. Yes, that’s right, now she demands tuna morning and night whether she needs ear drops or not. We have conditioned her not to tolerate the ear drops, but to expect tuna twice per day. This morning I walked into the living room and was greeted by a delighted cat, chirping happily and licking her chops at me as if to say “hey you! Tuna woman! Get me my Tuna!” Oh yeah, somebody is being conditioned – and I think it’s me!

Words of Wisdom (and red, red wine…)

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Biffo is another artist in residence here on Chicken Road, and every now and again, Biffo has ‘Words of Wisdom’. Usually dispensed with all the drama of the Oracle of Delphi, but instead of a dusty cave filled with psychotropic fumes, Biffo’s Words come from a comfy arm chair, wearing a reindeer onsie  (with hood and antlers) and red flannel dressing gown.

Past Words of Wisdom that have punctuated normal civilized conversation like a volcanic eruption include:

“We need to be Spartan or we’ll all have gout…”Oracle_of_Delphi__by_hybridgothica

And the enigmatic-

“When the cupboards are bare, shit tastes like nectar…”

Truer words were never spoken. Today, Biffo’s ‘Words of Wisdom’ concerned the demon drink.  As it was Happy Tuesday on Chicken Road, we were communally imbibing the product of the vine while waiting for the Chicken and purple potatoes to slow roast – our own little bacchanalia, when Biffo suddenly sat up, cross legged like a naughty imp on a mushroom, thrust her wine glass into the air and declared:

“Red red wine… slides down the throat like a serpent and bites like an asp…”

Yes, this is true, “if you drink too much of it…” Biffo mutters while spluttering cheap Spanish red “and I like too much of it…” she continues.

Yup, she does. After all, she is an artist. Of sorts… I like a mojito myself. If it was good enough of Hemingway it’s good enough for me. Which makes me think of my herb farm, the one in my head. I love growing and using herbs and I dream of having a herb garden to potter in. Lavender, sage, rosemary, and mint. If I want a good Mojito, I need to grow some mint. Time to get into the garden…

Cat fight on the front step…

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Well, almost. It was remarkably mild this morning, positively balmy for February. The sun was shining (another rarity at any time of year) and the sky was blue, again, odd, I know. I decided to sit on the front step and drink my coffee in my fluffy slippers and flannel, leopard print pj’s, classy chick that I am. I’m sure the neighbours got a laugh .

The open door let in that inexplicable smell of fresh, and not at all freezing, air which drew the attention of Flossy the wonder cat and she came out to join me, with some trepidation as she is essentially an indoor cat. She wandered out of sight around the corner and at that precise moment, another cat appeared as if by magic, doing figure 8’s around my ankles and purring. I tried to reason with the beast and tell it that if it valued its life it should run, now, fast. The foolish creature obviously had a death wish as it ignored my pleas to save its life.

You see, Flossy does not like other cats. AT. ALL. Then, the purring stopped and the friendly-stupid cat made that crazy woooooahhhh wooooahhhhhh! noise that fighting and/or amorous cats make. Flossy had returned and found an imposter between her and her own doorstep. Worse still, her trusted servant (me) appeared to be fraternising with this enemy! Her retribution was swift and merciless…