About 24 years ago I made my impact on the world of Doctor Who when Virgin published my novel 'Witch Mark' (it's available from the ebay for about 50p if you are interested). It is not one of the well-remembered, ground-breaking novels but it was my proud little contribution to the ongoing story of the Doctor.
When I was feeling miserable last year, one of the things that cheered me up was a sudden flurry of 'Friend' requests on Facebook from people who only knew me because of 'Witch Mark' and had fond, nostalgic memories of it. Amongst these was a request from a chap called Tommy Donbavand. I had never heard of him and his profile picture was a bit weird but I eventually accepted the friend request and discovered more about him.
And what I discovered was that he was a well-loved author of novels, Beano cartoons and Doctor Who. He was generous with his time for others, spent a lot of time in schools promoting reading and writing. He'd written a series of books called Scream Street and they were being turned into a series for CBBC. And he was a funny guy.
Being Facebook friends is a bit odd. I mean, I still don't know Tommy from Adam, but I formed an opinion of him and thought that if I ever came out of my shell and started actually, you know, interacting with people then I could do worse than talk to Tommy.
So, it was a sad day when I heard that Tommy was suffering from health problems. He was blogging about it in a brave, honest and funny way...
Go on, click on the picture, follow the link. Have a read.
Now, the thing is, like many authors Tommy makes his living not just from the sales of his books (I'm not in a position to know, but as I understand it, it is pretty hard to live on what a writer makes) but also from his school visits, his touring, his talks. Things that need him to be present in person, things that aren't possible when he is being treated for cancer.
So a bunch of great people, people who had sent me 'Friend' requests on Facebook, people who I knew no better than Tommy but who had helped me through a difficult and upsetting period of my life, decided to put together a charity anthology to raise money to help him through this difficult time. And I was honoured to be one of the people who was asked to contribute. And for the first time in 24 years I managed to get my act together.
So, if you are a fan of Dr Who, or the Beano, or Scream Street, or if you just want to help out a lovely bloke in his time of need, please visit the Obverse Books website and order a copy of 'A Target for Tommy' (ebook or paperback) Just click on the picture...
There are a lot of great stories in there, with contributions by writers of Doctor Who from the television, novels and audioplays. Mine requires (possibly) some knowledge of a story aired 30 years ago but don't let that put you off!
Stupid, stupid me!
As you may, or may not, know I was bitten by a cat a couple of weeks ago. And, foolishly, in the spirit of 'not wanting to make a fuss or put anybody out' I didn't get antibiotics straight away. Oh no, I wated for 24 hours so that it could get infected good and proper, and then got antibiotics. But the infection I got wasn't susceptible to those antibiotics and I was then hospitalised for nearly a week and signed off work for a further 2 weeks. And today I have discovered that I've developed a sore under the dressing which is oozing quite a lot of blood.
All of whichis a long winded way of accounting for any failures of punctuation, grammar, spelling et cetera because I am typing one-handed and, frankly, can't be bothered to go back and edit.
When I returned from the hospital on Sunday it became apparent that we were due for our longest period of sustained sunshine (approx. 1.27 minutes) since we arrived in Shropshire and so the farmer who manages the fields around us was going to get going with making hay as the old adage suggests he should do.
As a consequence of all the cutting of the grass, the wildilfe in the fields was obviously much disturbed.
I realise that this picture looks the very epitome of pastoral calm and tranquility so you will have to take my word for it that nature showed itself to be most brutal, red in tooth and claw. Particularly at first, there were a lot of rooks (or possibly ravens, or, who knows, maybe crows - my single handed wielding of binoculars makes everything a bit shaky)
All those black dots in the distance? Corvids! Corvids, I tells ya!
But hang on a moment, I hear you cry. What is that brown blurry thing in the middle of the picture?
What? This brown, blurry thing?
Bit camera shy, but eventually via the medium of a wobbly telescope, wobbly hand and wobbly camera I managed to get a slightly better view...
...which I am excited to reveal is definitely a golden eagle, even though Denise assures me it is probably a red kite. Look, who is the wildlife expert with good eyesight around here anyway?
It came a bit closer so I took this picture from the kitchen window, and then I tried to sneak outside and take a closer picture. Have you tried sneaking when a back door doesn't close easily and a certain kitten is trying to follow you through a door?
Bye bye, kite!
Hi, I'm Andy, serial weight gainer. My year of dieting is over! But you can still give money to Shelter or the PDSA!