Ode to Autumn

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

The weather has been beautiful this week, very autumnal. We’ve woken to mists that have been burned off by the sun during the day. The ground is damp underfoot. And the hedgerows are bursting with “mellow fruitfulness”.   I can almost smell bonfire night already.

We went shopping yesterday evening, and between us arriving at the supermarket (apx 7pm) and emerging with our goods (apx 8pm), another mist (and the night) had come down and settled in pockets.

It’s still very warm in our sun trap of a garden during the day, but the temperature has really started to drop at night.

Winter’s almost here. I do love our seasons. They’re what help make our land so green and pleasant.

It’s been another busy week with a day lost on Monday. I’ve been trying to clear 2 jobs, a heavy edit and a new edit. I should get at least one done by the end of today, said she hopefully … It’s also been the start of a new month and that brings with it new month admin – updating diaries, spreadsheets, workloads, finances, etc.

Yesterday I did next week’s diary. And for the first time ever, “writing work” has moved UP a time slot. To before the blog post, even. I have been striving so long for this to happen. It still has one notch to go – I tend to do the daily competitions as a bit of a warm-up while my eyes unstick from the night. But I’ll see how it goes where it is now, for now. On Mondays, I still have “gig list admin” to do first, as people are usually waiting for a post before sending us their gigs for the week. But for the rest of the week, it goes something like this:

  • Housework
  • BREAKFAST
  • Daily competitions
  • Writing work
  • etc …

Mind you, if we don’t win something soon, I can see daily competitions being missed off again for a while. (The first housework slot is actually getting the house up for the day, and off to work where applicable.)

The writing work slot is broken down further, and this month that includes the following:

  • writing work
    • Catch the Rainbow
    • NaNo prep
    • short writing
    • (leave blank for any extras)

At the moment I have 2 hours each day dedicated to writing work. Next week I also have 1 x 2-hour slot and 2 x 1-hour slots dedicated to study work. This is writing too. It’s my fiction writing course, and when it’s finished, that’ll be 4 extra hours each week for something.

For NaNoWriMo next month I’ve already decided to keep this structure going and run NaNo alongside my usual writing commitments. It might be that daily competitions and study work get the month off. What I don’t want to do is write nothing because (a) my NaNo has stalled, or (b) my regular writing has stalled. Even if one fails, I still want the other to carry on.

October is prep month for NaNo, which is why it gets a sub-slot within the writing work slot this month. At the moment I’m wondering which project to go with:

  • YA
  • novella
  • romance … (unlikely)
  • steampunk
  • murder/mystery
  • a mix of 2 or more of the above

Something will come to me, I’ve already asked the Cosmos.

Meanwhile, we have another very busy weekend coming up. I’m sure the poet said he wants to go picking sloes this evening. We had our first frost last night so we might not have to freeze them now. If the light goes as quickly as it did last night, that doesn’t give us much time. But at least the sloes are only along our lane. We don’t have any stiles to go scrambling over.

We still have apple pies and apple & elderberry crumble to make.

Tomorrow we have a bank appointment, though judging from the last conversation we had that might be getting cancelled, and then we’re off to a football match. Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley. Leeds United are also playing Birmingham City, but we decided to go with the cheaper option. There will be fewer tears that way too – from the poet! 😉

And on Sunday we’re off to Birmingham. We went to the poet’s parents’ last night, and it’s my parents’ on Sunday.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the poem.

Ode To Autumn – John Keats

1.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

2.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

With thanks to All Poetry.

So I ordered new pictures …

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Taken at RSPB Old Moor (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

… and I got new pictures. And they say that Cosmic Ordering doesn’t work. 🙂

We had a lovely weekend. On Friday night we had a date night at the pictures. We ate out too at one of our favourite places, Pizza Express, and then bought chocolate, pop and popcorn and sat in front of JURASSIC WORLD for a couple of hours.

We both like JURASSIC PARK and the new one is very much Jurassic Park, and nods back at the originals more than once. And we were still on our way home at 9:30pm, which is actually quite good anyway as they’ve been springing a closed motorway overnight on us for the past month or so.

On Saturday we went to see the poet’s parents, and we bought a few fresh things on the way home as we were having another barbecue. At about 6pm we dawdled down to our local recreation park for a “rock on the rec” festival, but we were a little bit disappointed. It was an evening festival and there were just too many children there, and they were being allowed to kick their footballs and throw their frisbees regardless of whether they hit anyone or not, and with no apologies either.

We don’t mind kids being at festivals at all, but not when the kids outnumber the adults, and not when the adults aren’t able to control the very unruly ones. And when the lead singer of unknown-band-number-two said “Good evening Glastonbury”, we came home. I’m sorry, but it wasn’t even funny, let alone funny enough. (Bah, humbug!)

On Sunday we headed off to the RSPB centre at Old Moor in Barnsley. This is a very old favourite of mine and is fast becoming a favourite of the poet’s too. We went because (a) we haven’t been for a while, (b) I wanted new pictures for the blog, and (c) because there’s been a little bittern there all week and the centre had extended its opening hours so that people could come and see it.

We didn’t see the little bittern or, in fact, the regular bittern. But we did see a little egret and an American wigeon, both of which are also quite rare. We also saw dragon- and damsel-flies. so watch out for another brilliant picture later in the week.

Incidentally, for those following the Cosmic ordering … Holly has worked out how to come IN through the cat flap now, and another potential client contacted me over the weekend with possible new big work.

This week has suddenly changed, mostly because I realised at about 10pm last night that the MOT on my car ran out in May. I’ve never, ever forgotten to MOT my car before, in all the years I’ve owned one. But the garage has said they can do it this Friday, when I was supposed to be at the dentist.

As the poet isn’t around on Friday to be my chauffeur, we’re going to have to drop it in Thursday evening and collect it Friday night (said she, hopefully). But the dental appointment has been moved along a fortnight – I couldn’t move it to next Friday as we already have something else planned.

Of course, this gives me an extra hour or so of work-time on Friday, which is good. And for those who get withdrawal symptoms, here’s my to-do list for this week:

  • twice-daily housework chores
  • gig list admin x 2
  • daily competitions
  • blog x 3
  • writing work @ 2 hours daily
  • edit book @ 2 hours x 4-daily
  • job boards x 2 hours + any ad hoc
  • 1 hour study work x 2
  • diary work
  • take car for MOT
  • invoices, admin, pc maintenance

What’s in your WiP this week?

Famous last words ( *** list alert ***)

ahmmSo on Monday I bragged about us both shaking off our colds … and then yesterday I was hit by a relapse that completely knocked me out and back into bed. Talk about famous last words.

I’m still not right today, but the time in bed gave me lots of navel-gazing opportunity in a bid to banish those crows of doubt that have been circling recently.

I think I’ve given myself the kick up the bum I needed, but time will tell. But there’s no diary of a scaredy cat this week as, well, I’ve not done a lot …

… other than the following:

  • bought 3 new magazines (digital versions) I’ve always wanted to target with short fiction (including the one in the picture) – market study
  • loaded older versions of previously bought same magazines (all to Kindle Home) – market study
  • loaded previously bought collections of short stories by Della Galton and Teresa Ashby to Kindle Home (1 each) – market study
  • loaded a total of 18 how-to-write books to Kindle Home for browsing and dipping into
  • loaded a further book to Kindle Home on getting organised, 1 on habit-forming, and another 2 for idea-brainstorming (I do love my Kindle …)
  • researched and bookmarked 22 websites that buy short material from freelance writers
  • subscribed to Duotrope
  • submitted 2 short stories to UK markets this morning
  • submitted 3 short stories to Duotrope listings this morning

I’m also aiming at splitting the diary into:

  • am – my writing work (including market study/research)
  • pm – editing/proofreading work (including surfing job boards and other work-finding and administration activities)

More bed-based work yesterday included synchronising all the bookmarks on all of my wi-fi devices so that I don’t have to keep sending myself links. And I did a lot of reading.

I need to concentrate on my own writing again, whether that be novels, books, articles, short stories or fillers. I’m less likely to spend much time on article-writing, unless it’s a reader’s true experience (RTE) I can rattle off or something I don’t need to personally research very much.

And I need an injection of confidence.

And the opposite of a lazy pill …

How do you kick yourself up the bum to get you working again?

So how am I doing? (*** list alert ***)

So on Tuesday I started a new time management routine, just to see if it worked or not. And so far, it seems to be. I’m getting more done and spending more time on things that matter and less time on things that don’t.

Let’s take today, for example. Here’s how today’s diary usually would have looked:

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 blog
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
(2:30 dentist – boo!)
3:00 invoices, admin, pc mtce
5:00 housework
6:00 TEA

It’s still in hour-long segments and yesterday I found out I had a dentist appointment at 2:30 … yes, really. My own writing work only had one hour allocated to it, and the book that’s due to be finished today only had 2 hours allocated to it – which doesn’t allow for hiccups like power cuts or the internet falling over (as I have to submit via the job board), and I lost a day’s work on it Tuesday when lots of new furniture arrived. Also, I have no invoices to raise this week (boo!) and pc mtce can be done while I’m doing something else, as it’s backing up critical data and can be done in the background.

So I had a think, and prioritised a bit, and postponed the dentist to next Friday. And here’s how it looks now:

8:30 housework – washing (laundry)
9:00 BREAKFAST
9:30 daily competitions
10:00 blog
11:00 writing work (2 hours!)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 study skills (edit book) (3½ hours) PLUS pc mtce
5:30 TEA

Not only does my day start 30 minutes later, by the way. It also finishes 30 minutes earlier. Yet I’ve managed to schedule in 2 hours for my own writing work, which could be cut down to 1 hour if I feel the book needs more time – but at least I still have a writing session booked in – and the book job that’s due in today has 3½ hours allocated to it. If that job gets finished early, then I can do any outstanding admin (aka filing …) or housework. But it can also run over and the poet will sort tea if necessary.

Oh yes, and I didn’t get the rubber (eraser) out once this week, once I’d settled on the schedule.

With this new system, which I’m still testing, I’ve managed to give myself 2 hours of writing time every day next week*. Plus client work gets 2 hours every day Monday to Thursday*. AND I’ve managed to fit in an hour of study (aka personal development) on Wednesday and on Thursday. So there are 2 hours I wouldn’t normally be spending on my own work. Friday afternoon will consist of errands next week (dentist + hair appointment), otherwise I’d still have 2 hours of client time then too.

I have yet to see where yoga and dog walking will fit in, although walking the dog isn’t such a necessity these days as we have such a big garden. But I think we do need to fit it in somewhere, and not just at weekends and on holidays. And we do walk the dog to the lake after the poet has finished work whenever we feel like it.

The old first 30 minutes of the day (8:00 – 8:30) are the poet getting ready for work, so I’ve knocked that off my diary. I’m still having 60 minutes for dinner at the moment, because he comes home for his dinner now and he has 45 minutes. Maybe that’s where the dog walk will come in.

BUT I’m very pleased with it and, more importantly, I’ve been able to work on CATCH THE RAINBOW every day, which is a habit I really want to get into. And you can see what I have planned for today without me having to repeat it. 😉 (Although, I may swap the writing time and client time around to ensure I meet the deadline, but I’ll still have and take my writing time, even if it is only an hour.)

So, that aside, I still need to apply it to weekends as we have another very busy one coming up.

This evening, if we feel like it (the poet has tonsillitis threatening), we might go to see a band. Tomorrow, son #1 is bringing his girlfriend to meet us and we’re going to Holmfirth too, for something to eat and to take in a comedy show. Sunday morning there’s a farmers’ market in Wentworth, but that depends on what time we have to take son #1 + g/f back to the station.

I still have a very busy day, and so I’m going to clear orf now. Y’all have a good weekend. 😀

* Apart from Tuesday. I think I have a day off on Tuesday.

Time management (*** list alert ***)

get everything doneAs most of you know, diary work is one of my most favourite of activities. This is because seeing a full diary means I have plenty of work in and gaps identify gaps in the work. I’ve always filled in my diary with a pencil, as this can easily be rubbed out if (a) a job is cancelled, (b) priorities change, or (bad) (c) I just don’t get around to doing it. I’d rather rub out a job and write what I actually did than put a cross next to it. However, now I’m wondering if pencil isn’t the best thing as it’s actually too easy to just rub something out I didn’t feel like doing today.

I’ve always been very organised in my approach to work. When I was a very busy and prolific freelancer, back in the day, I needed to be organised. And that organisation included all of the mundane work too, such as admin, pc maintenance, finance work, filing … (which, actually, often gets rubbed out and left), and so on. But I’ve also been an absolutely superb procrastinator.

Emails, daily competitions, Facebook, surfing the internet, playing games – all come very easily to me regardless of whether or not my diary is chock-solid-full. But rubbing yet another job out because I’ve not got around to it, for whatever reason, isn’t very good feng shui for the soul, if you get my drift. And it can have a debilitating effect on motivation.

The diary was my best ever work tool. It enabled me to list work that needs doing, and then tick it as I went along doing it – ticks are ace motivators. And adding “fun” tasks meant I did them for that time only, moved on, but still remained happy. When I got really good at it, I started to allocate time slots to specific tasks. But I want to stop using that rubber (eraser). I want more ticks and more output. I work in a lovely environment, with a gorgeous view, comfortable ergonomic furniture, the latest technology, and a very supportive and enthusiastic partner, who also just happens to be my number one fan.

But something needs to change.

I’m editing a book for a client at the moment on revision and study skills, and on Monday I got to the part where he recommended a time management book: GET EVERYTHING DONE, AND STILL HAVE TIME TO PLAY by Mark Forster. So, being the great procrastinator that I am, I went to have a look. And I liked what I saw. And so I bought it. And I read the introduction, at the end of which is the author’s very first exercise, which I’m going to précis here (and I’m not doing him out of any book sales, this exercise is clearly available via the “look inside” function on Amazon) (and, anyway, there’s loads more juicy material in there for you to discover for yourselves).

He calls it an exercise in mental strength. Basically, at the end of each day you choose just one task to do tomorrow. Then tomorrow, even if you do nothing else, you do this one thing. If you don’t do it, then it’s too difficult, and you need to choose something easier; if you do manage it, then you can choose something similar at the end of that day, and so on, increasing the difficulty as you go. Then, when you find you’re completing every single task quite competently, you add another to it, giving yourself 2 tasks to complete the following day. And so on, until you’re setting 3 tasks, and 4 tasks, and so on, until you’re just doing stuff anyway and no longer need to do this (unless, of course, you find setting tasks in this manner gets things successfully done).

So, on Monday evening, I decided that if I didn’t manage anything else from my to do list on Tuesday, I’d empty all the bins in the house and leave those to soak that needed it. (You can apply it to any task, not just work or writing. So I applied it to a household chore.) It was bin day anyway, and I always do put the bin out. But I don’t necessarily go around the house emptying all of the wastepaper bins, usually it’s just the kitchen bin. And I certainly don’t wash them.

And when I’d done that task, I set myself another: wash all the pillow-ticks and the mattress protector in preparation for a new bed we were getting delivered. And hang it on the line to dry.

So, here is how my diary looked yesterday, Tuesday (*** list alert ***):

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 job boards (2 hours)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin
6:00 TEA

Meals are very important to me, so I make sure they’re in capitals. 🙂

Now, this list of jobs would normally have a list of ticks beside it and any details of what I actually did. But with furniture arriving (2 settees and a bed), and with me wanting to assemble said furniture if necessary before the poet came home (so we still had the evening together), already the rubber had come out. However, it was still a very busy day and I still got a very lot done. Here’s the revised list by the end of the day:

8:00 housework – change beds, wash pillow-ticks and mattress cover, hang washing out, bins
 9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions (+ much procrastination once complete)
 11:00 job boards = 3 jobs pitched (2 hours, but much procrastination once done)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 furniture delivery – entertain delivery men, arrange furniture, vacuum carpet
3:00 assemble new bed, make bed (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (the poet took it out)
6:00 TEA – poet treated me to KFC for working so hard ♥

So, this morning I decided to do it again. I decided that by 9am I would have done some household chore – this time, empty dishwasher. And in my breakfast hour, I would indeed have breakfast, read a chapter of the time management book, get washed and dressed, be at my desk by 10am.

Here’s how today’s diary looked (bear with me):

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 blog
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (fetch it in)
6:00 TEA

But with me choosing another task to complete as soon as I completed the previous one, I was actually at my desk by 9:30 and able to bring everything forward a little. Here’s how it looks now:

8:00 housework – empty dishwasher
9:00 BREAKFAST
9:30 daily competitions
10:00 blog
11:00
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (fetch it in)
6:00 TEA

I have a whole hour that’s blank!

Now then, from just 2 extracts from my diary you can see how I structure and balance work, household chores and “fun” tasks to keep me motivated. But you can also see what’s first to fall to the wayside if anything else comes along – writing work and paid work. But today, I’ve completed 2 tasks in half the time I set for them – 30 minutes instead of 60 minutes. And I’ve given myself a whole new hour to play with.

In future, I can probably allocate just 30 minutes to each of “breakfast” (which also includes other activities such as reading) and “daily competitions” (although a Monday may still need the full hour as I’ve the weekend to catch up on). And I won’t sacrifice the “warm-up” things I do at the computer, such as the competitions and write the blog.

So, what to do with that extra hour? And can I also shorten “dinner” to 30 minutes?

There are 2 things I’ve really wanted to do, that I used to do, but that I’ve not done for ages. Years, in fact. One is walk the dog daily; the other is yoga. I could use one of those 30-minute slots for the dog walk, but while the yoga would start at less than 30 minutes, it gradually needs to build up to 60 minutes, but not every day. Another thing I could use the time for, either daily or in between yoga workout days, is self-improvement – study, reading, learning a new skill. Or I could spend more time on the guaranteed paid work or on the writing work.

“Writing work” can consist of anything – novel writing, short story writing, article writing, filler writing, market study, brainstorming ideas, reading (books on the subject I’m writing about, or the era, or the genre, or books on writing), research, editing, proofreading, thinking, lying back and gazing through the window … (honest, us writers are working really very hard when we do that). But it needs to be a priority.

So, while I wonder what to do with these extra time-slots, my question today is this: what would you do with yours?

Light at the end of the tunnel (list alert)

We’ve had a very busy time towards the end of 2014 with loads and loads going on. Things are starting to settle a bit now, and we’re achieving much of what we set out to do at the start of the year. We’re also coming to terms with things out of our control and getting into a routine with those.

I had a deadline on Friday for an 80,000-word editing job, and I had a deadline yesterday for a 78,000-word editing job. Those 2 jobs alone took up a lot of time in the past week and a half, and I also did snagging on another, shorter job about to go to print. I finished both of those jobs on time, although I was working until gone 10pm last night. The poet, bless him, made tea and supper while I worked. 🙂

Now I have 3 new, shorter jobs waiting to be started, and another snagger waiting to go to print this week. I’m also getting a corker of a writing itch.

The time has come for me to give my daily work schedule a massive kick up the bum. It has been working, but with the prospect of an extra hour a day, with the poet working closer to home and not leaving the house until 8:30am, which is too late – really – for me to go back to bed, that’s an extra 5 hours per week. I’d love to fill it with writing time.

4 seasonsI use several books on writing when I’m limbering up. And I do limber up. Yes, I do have tons and tons of ideas, but I like to do idea-generating exercises too so that they’re not too stale. (I don’t do writing exercises for exercise sake, if they’re unlikely to lead to something marketable, they’re not really worth the time and effort to me.)

The book I took on holiday to Dent with us this year was Four Seasons of Creative Writing by Bryan Cohen. July was Camp NaNo and I tried to write something every day, even if it was a limbering-up exercise.

With the help of this book I came back with first drafts and outlines of several short stories. It was the middle of July but I was using prompts for January as, at the time, that’s what the fiction editors were looking for.

So, this coming year, I’m going to continue to dip into this book when I want to, and I’m going to develop those stories I started in July but was distracted from by earning a living and life. They’ll go off on their rounds, but they’ll also be pegged for Twee Tales Too and beyond …

One of my New Year resolutions is to find an alternative to using Amazon – I have my reasons. Therefore, the link for this one you can find here. (It’s still free.)

If you have any tips for my rejigged working day, then do let me know below. Things I tend to include, value added or not, are:

  • editing
  • proofreading
  • job hunting
  • writing short material (fillers, readers’ letters, articles, short stories)
  • writing long material (novels, books, anthologies)
  • blog posts
  • admin (filing, invoicing, trips to post office, etc)
  • daily competions (I’ve won more than £3,500 in cash as well as numerous prizes)
  • personal appointments (dentist, hair, doctor, etc)

Thank you for participating.

Productive week so far (lists alert)

I had a good day on Monday.

I sifted through the archives and I found 4 short stories and 1 reader’s true experience (RTE) that just needed a quick proofread before going off on their merry ways. I also:

  • found 2 1st drafts of stories
  • identified slots for 4 potential filler ideas
  • started the new WiP notebook
  • brought my fillers markets up to date with what 3 of the red-top magazines are currently looking for
  • proofed those 4 short stories
  • chased an overdue invoice
  • and pitched for 2 new editing or proofreading jobs

The poet worked from home yesterday, which was lovely – apart from him being full of cold again. He got quite a lot done, and much more than (a) he thought he would, and (b) he would have done had he been at work. He’s always said he wouldn’t have the discipline to work from home, but perhaps me sitting there working away helped. Here’s what I managed:

  • started the non-fiction manual edit, clearing 30 pages
  • pitched for 3 new editing or proofreading jobs (and have one reply to reply to already)
  • proofed the RTE
  • and did some banking work

We also took the dog for a walk and nipped to Tesco for milk and something quick for tea.

This morning I took my car in for an MOT.

The plan was to take some work down to the library for a couple of hours, but as I pulled up at the garage, they were waiting for me and they took it down straight away, telling me to wait in the office. Half an hour later they were back, having replaced 2 lightbulbs (front nearside sidelight + registration plate light) and switched off the Air Bag warning light, and clutching my shiny new MOT certificate. With a teeny tiny bill of less than £40 this time (apx $65), I was very proud of my little car and treated it to a smelly new air freshener – last of the big spenders, that’s me. 🙂

It meant the editing work I took with me didn’t really get done, but I did manage some reading. When I got back there were author revisions waiting for me on a historical novel I’ve been editing, so I shifted that and had a late dinner (lunch).

I want to have another look at the job boards this afternoon and maybe do some more of that manual editing.

This evening, though, we’re off to see Stephen Wade (aka the babe magnet) and Phil Whyman at the Doncaster Literary Festival, so we’re going to be in a bit of a rush and I’m cooking tea. It’ll be great to catch up with Stephen and his wife, Kate Walker, this evening as I haven’t seen them for a couple of years.

What a busy week. And there are still 2 days left.