Monthly Archives: December 2015

12/12/2015: dwindling grains

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Templeton bonfire. Looks like a djinn.

Almost a full two months since our last diary entry, which is a shame because I’m bound to only remember the events most significant to me and which occurred most recently.

October went quickly.

I had trouble while the Kickstarter campaign was running to do anything but glare at my email inbox on my phone, constantly swiping to refresh. It’s a weird sort of pressure to put one’s self under, and I hope not to have to do it next time, but can’t realistically imagine another way of funding a book and securing more than a handful of orders at once.

It worked again, fortunately.

12141501_1503088306651645_1038816762555940856_nHalloween is Sybil’s favourite time of year, so while V was back and forth to London for work we went to walk around a spooky maze at Picton Castle. I also hired an access tower from Brandon Tool hire and set to work painting the Landskerian independence mural on the side of our house.

It didn’t take too long in real time. A couple of days’ work at the most; but it was bitty and broken up by childcare duties and the intermittent rain. Still, the finished article is pleasing to my eye. It’s unusual for a coat of arms, I think; but still recognizable as one. It felt necessary to get it done before the book was published, and indeed it was done before the book was even funded. No doubt the psychic energy emulating from the mural helped to push the funding over the target amount and beyond.

12065859_10153029870377133_2658517520815003528_nOnce the Kickstartering was over I got to panic about something completely new and different: the book launch event I’d (sort of) organised in London. Bonfire night happened. Jon visited and we went for a lovely walk up the coast by Abercastle, discovering a splendid Cromlech called Carreg Sampson and witnessing a couple of choughs pecking about in the grass by the cliff, and a delightful display from some starlings. Fury came with us and Sybil went to Carmarthen to go shopping with V.

The following (very rainy) morning Jon and I recorded some readings of poems in the shed, which was very useful in helping me work out which ones I could remember, and perform adequately, live.

10420125_10153052931757133_558384550417544449_nAs well as the usual duties of taking children to classes in cars, failing to teach Fury how to swim on a weekly basis and keeping the library books coming and going, I found myself mired in a prolonged piece of copywriting work throughout much of November, having amounted to no fewer than six drafts by the time I finished in early December. At least I think I finished. I’ve not yet heard anything, or indeed billed for it.

But this combined with planning for the event and the arrival of the books themselves and the accompanying requirement for fulfilling Kickstarter rewards (pamphlets, certificates, flags, etc.) meant that November blinked and I missed it. My mother came up at some point to look for houses, but we didn’t find one. Well, not THE one.

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Celebrating our independence from the UK.

Victoria’s parents came to stay too for the last part, and we got to witness Sybil’s acting debut in a production of the Elves and the Shoemaker, in which she mainly stood right at the front of the stage yawning, and occasionally waving to Fury. Nevertheless I feel I can impartially state that she was by far the most promising talent on display.

Fury’s second birthday was a delight. She was looking forward to it for weeks, and very much enjoyed the attention, and the play Sybil happened to be doing on the same day, and the visit to a new(ish) trampoline park by Haverfordwest airport.

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An arch at Rosebush quarry.

I had a terrible cold that week, and on the first day it really kicked in (the Monday following my brief visit to London for the Indelicates’ “Elevator Music” album launch party) I remembered I’d agreed to go to Sybil’s kindergarten and help with the construction of a fire escape. I could barely drag myself out of bed, but having done nothing by way of volunteering all year I sort of felt like I had to. In the end I helped dig out a hole in an earth bank and then constructed a section of dry stone wall all by myself – on an empty stomach, I might add. I won’t be doing that again any time soon.

I hadn’t quite recovered by the time the book launch loomed, but driving to and from London in the space of two days (and sharing the drive with V, who was able to commit to attending at the last minute thanks to some brave volunteer childsitters and dogsitters) was much more manageable a task than getting the train there and back on the weekend. The latter meant over 12 hours in a confined, uncomfortable space that was generally either too hot or too cold.

12342653_1512784132348729_5057545310557254776_nThe book launch came and went. It was a tremendously enjoyable experience for me. It felt hugely self-indulgent. I did two sets of about 12 poems combined – some read, some performed – including a “cover” of a Yeats poem set to a friend’s music. (More on the gig here.) It was a shame not to have the kids there, but they would have been very bored. I look forward to embarrassing them with such things in later life. I was very grateful for the support of friends and family alike. V, especially, was enormously encouraging and helpful. I’m glad she was able to come, even though I had long got used to the idea that she might not be able to (because of work, kids, etc.)

Steve about to perform "Advertising space".

Steve about to perform “Advertising space”.

The launch also saw the official declaration of independence for Landskeria. I had meant to involve the audience by getting them to sign a document as witnesses, but our printer packed up at the last minute. So in the end I just read the state poem. At some point I should probably inform the UK home office or the foreign office (not sure which) but it feels official to me now, which is what matters most. We got a flag made and everything.

Tynewydd - the capital of Landskeria.

Tynewydd – the capital of Landskeria.

While the rest of the world (at least the world according to the news) is being bombed it’s nice to have a bit of peace and tranquillity, somehow only made more so by the stormy weather. Aeroplane trails criss-cross in the sky over Landskeria, but we are no one’s business so we don’t have to scramble them or try to shoot them down. Our airspace can take the violation.

Kindergarten term has come to an end. The countdown to Christmas has begun. We will spend it with the Keebles and various in/out-laws in Gloucestershire. Now that all the book stuff is out the way I can look forward to it.

We have a new shed to hold the wood pellets on the far side of my Boiler House (more commonly referred to as “The Shed” in spite of all the other sheds which are more shedlike). Our borders have been cut by the gardener and now I can patrol no fewer than three stretches of walkable hedge. There’s a large overgrown tree-stump I’d never found before on the East-facing border of West Landskeria. I took the above photo of our house from it. I was toying with the idea of a flagpole for our new flag, but V has vetoed it. After the mural, I might just let this one go for a bit. Sybil, however, has cottoned on to how much V doesn’t want a flagpole, so keeps cracking jokes about getting her one for her birthday in January.

Jon and Fury at Carreg Sampson.

Jon and Fury at Carreg Sampson.

The new year will also bring with it Sybil’s transition to a proper school (she is 4 now after all) and possibly Fury’s transition to a playgroup in Clarbeston Road. (Though it should be noted she greets every such suggestion with a firm shake of the head and a “No” at the moment.)

We will also be going to Florida to see V’s american family at some point. And maybe even getting a new floor put down finally. Beyond this I have relatively few expectations for the year.

I will try to get some reviews for the book. If I manage, they will probably be as negative as last time. But who cares? It’s already paid for itself and even given me a few bottles of wine by way of profit. I’m pleased with it. And I will try very hard to make the next one better.

Our independence will not be recognised by anyone. But the more independent we become, the more of a reality it will be. We might start to look at ways of producing our own electricity. Fracking. Uranium mining. I reckon a flagpole might attract a few bolts of lightning…

Until our next update (which will probably be in 2016) let it be known that the weather is stormy, the environment is volatile, and the economy is bearing up under the global strain.

A Velky.