About wronghand

Who Am I? An aspiring novelist, working hard to complete my first novel. In previous years I have written, published and broadcast adult short stories, some posted here, and many stories for children. What Lights My Fire? My passions are the power of words, my love of books, art, people, all animals - but especially dogs - and the precarious future of our precious world. Where Have I Been? I've been travelling, mainly in Europe and South America, and blogging for several years on a variety of themes. I would love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts below. You will find links below to social media, so that I can contact and be contacted by friends and followers. Welcome to my small corner of our world, I hope you will find something here to interest you, make you smile or maybe even cry. Thank you for visiting!

Smell like a new man

Perfumes for men and boys? Why not? They’ve been smelling of sporty shower gel and sharp aftershave since at least the sixties or seventies, when heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper advised them to ‘splash it all over’.

Nothing wrong with a bloke smelling like he’s had a decent wash. Trouble with these millennials is, though, they’ve all got beards or heavy stubble. How can you get a good niff round your jaws if you haven’t shaved? Oh, excuse me, I didn’t realise that modern lads just rubbed their fragrance of choice over their hairy chops. Seems a bit strange, though, like changing your shorts without having a bit of a spruce up around your dangly bits. Still what do I know? I’m a dinosaur, apparently.

But it’s definitely taking the piss when I read that some new men’s fragrances are inspired by the scents of concrete, skateboards and even – I’m not kidding – baby teeth. Has the world gone mad? No, not the world, just, as usual, the market. And marketing.

I’ll tell you something for nothing, though: I’m quite partial to the smell of freshly laid tarmac. I think you call it asphalt in the US. That’s a good strong, masculine pong: maybe that’s where the notion of a fragrance reminiscent of concrete comes from. Who knows? It might catch on among those rugged muscular types, maybe. Can you imagine? New fragrance, what’s that called? ‘Concrete mix’, really? Mmmm… different.

Skateboards have never played any part in my everyday life: roller-skates, yes, when I was a kid, mostly associated with the smell of sticking plaster and lint bandages, with light notes of iron from oozing blood trickles. Course, you only get the iron notes if you catch the blood escaping from the plaster on your grubby fingers and then lick it off. Ah, the sweet remembered tastes and smell of playing out in childhood. Yes, maybe there’s something in that one. What about ‘Blood and Sand’?

Milk teeth – does this have anything to do with baby breath, a delightful, milky, unique scent? Doubtful, by the time little ones are losing their milk teeth, their breath smells of toffees and liquorice and fizzy drinks. Or is that only my grandkids? My imagination can’t quite reach far enough to come up with a name for a men’s fragrance inspired by milk teeth. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Sport? Not by any definition.

Today I am making Paella. I’ve got chicken pieces, prawns and Chorizo sausage. It should be easy – how hard can it be? It’s only a sort of risotto with protein in, instead of my usual mushrooms. I’ll tell you how it turns out.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with my liking for flesh. I won’t lie, I love nothing more than a crispy bacon butty, a nice thick rare steak or a succulent piece of salmon with pasta. But something on Twitter recently stopped me in my tracks. It was a whale hunt, taking place in the ocean around the Faroe Islands. The first post I read, last week, was about a mother and baby pilot whale, a type of dolphin, who’d become separated from their pod and, seemingly, escaped the hunters’ nets. But not for long, as a photo showed all too graphically. Mother and baby, dead, laid out side by side on a blood-soaked beach. That day, the Twitter post informed me, 193 animals had been slaughtered. For sport. I moved on quickly to the next post and put the image out of my mind. It was nothing to do with me, after all.

But a day or two later, there it was again, further news of how the hunt was progressing and the shocking information that nearly 1000 Pilot Whales had been killed by this hunt in just two months. Nearly one thousand dolphins. I had a mental picture of them, rounded up, trailed to shore in the nets thrashing and trying to escape, to save themselves and their young. Then suffocating on the beach, before the ‘sportsmen’ – read ‘killers’ – arrived with their clubs and their lances, the surf turning red. I couldn’t ignore a thousand dead dolphins: I opened the attachment and read further details. It appears that the whale carcasses are used to provide food for farmed salmon, you know, the type I buy, once a week, in the supermarket. I don’t know why this should have affected me so much, killing whales on an industrial scale, for sport and to fatten captive salmon, to feed me and other people like me, just ordinary people, who enjoy a bit of fish once or twice a week. I didn’t know about this annual slaughter: did you?

Why did it trouble me? I thought of the dolphins I’ve seen, off the west coast of Ireland, surfacing, splashing their tails, swimming alongside the tourist boats with their calves. Maybe they were Pilot Whales, dolphins, maybe not, does it matter? They were just alive, happy, splashing along, going somewhere, wherever it is that dolphins go, but not expecting anything like a boatload of hunters – ‘sportsmen’ – to be waiting, planning their deaths on an industrial scale.

I think I’ll cook the mushrooms.

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Don’t Soil Your Frock, Doc!

SoilSo, the new Doctor is female, who’d have thought it? Come on, it’s only taken 50-odd years for the regeneration of the Timelord into the Timelady. Or is that me being sexist? And elitist? Honestly, you can’t open your mouth these days without giving offense.

Anyroad up, as they allegedly say in Yorkshire, what’s the difference? Gender roles in film and drama seem to be interchangeable these days. We have Superman and Wonderwoman, Spiderman and Lara Croft, Batman and Catwoman. But if you haven’t seen the difference, you’ve been asleep in front of the screen.

These thoughts led me to wondering about how the Doc, as an either/or, might have been conditioned as a child. For that we need to go back-a-ways, s/he has been around since the year – only Who knows? And also, the Doc, sorry to break it to you so crudely, is non-human. Yes, I know the character has been portrayed as a human, David Tennant, Tom Baker, William Hartnell et al portraying him over the years. But he’s never been human, he’s an alien, a fugitive from the planet Gallifrey, and he twoced the Tardis, when he fled from his fellow Timelords, way back in the day. All very normal, for an antihero. But the Doc is a hero, or at least he’s become one over the course of twelve series, with a correspondingly heroic fanbase. They love him. So how will they take to her, number 13?

Will the new incarnation be allowed to scruff out, like David Tennant, in a fleabitten pair of old tennis shoes, heavy stubble and an unflattering mac? Or act completely outre, as did Tom Baker, winding himself up in that striped scarf, mad as a box of frogs? Will she be permitted to show her genius, her vulnerability, her ego, her age, her complete range of attributes? I hope so. I don’t want to watch a fashionable, perfectly groomed, freshly manicured and eyebrow-threaded performance. Will we be able to forget that the Doctor is a female? We should. Will the production team bite the bullet and let the actor act? I hope so.

A lot of young girls are longing for this opportunity to breakaway from the tyranny of body-image, the banality of beauty-worship and the strait-jacket of sexuality. Will the 13th Doc be given the chance to do all that, in however-many episodes? Or will we be able to guess that the conditioning on Gallifrey was as limiting for females as it is here on the Blue Planet, and that she is constantly being reminded to ‘look good’ and not to get ‘dirty’?

Eddie the Edible Dormouse

Now, serendipity is all well and good, but do you really believe in it? I didn’t, but then it appeared, just like that, as WordPress prompt of the day. Edible. If you’re a food blogger, you might have occasional reason to use this word, but only if you think your recipes are, perhaps, a bit iffy. Iffy is another satisfying  word, the much-used English phrase, a bit iffy, meaning something not entirely wholesome or desirable. What about that one for prompt of the day? But, forgive me, I digress…

The Edible Dormouse, which sounds a viciously cruel title, came to visit us in France last week. His proper name is Glis glis, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is much less exciting then his nickname.  But, look up Edible Dormouse on Wiki and you will find him there. The first time I heard of Eddie was when he was mentioned by a friend who has lived in France for about 20 years. ‘Edible Dormice?’ I said, disbelieving, ‘are you pulling my plonker?’ At this point I should perhaps apologise for using another English colloquialism. Although I’m sure you will get the general gist. Oops! More slang and digression…

This friend explained that GG had been farmed and eaten by the ancient romans, among other early europeans. To add insult to injury, they were mainly consumed as a snack, not even as the entree.  Poor little blighters, I thought, though I must tell you, having now met an Eddie, they are not so little. About the size of a decent hamster, and looking a bit like a small squirrel. Our meeting occurred when he dropped in, literally, I think from the beams in the kitchen, onto the fridge, where SOMEONE had left a couple of dog treats.  Not a bit frightened, and definitely not camera-shy. You can see him for yourself, below. Cute little chuffer, isn’t he? Apparently, they like to settle in and make themselves at home…

 

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Don’t Lose that Holiday Feeling

You know how it is…you go on vacation, have a great time, swear that you’ll change when you come home, talk to your family, drink less, dump the junk food, exercise more, ignore the small stuff that winds you up and makes you a grumpy bear. Then you come home, and reality bites. We’ve all been there, for sure. How is it possible to hold onto that optimistic vacation mood when you’re back in the rat-race, when the morning alarm sets you in motion for the day, when you’re working for the man or, increasingly, you don’t even know who you are working for? What then, Happy-Chops, or should that be, Sad Face?

Well, I’ve been thinking about this: there must be a way to keep smiling, or at least stop living out your days behind a clenched jaw and gritted teeth. No, I don’t mean win the lottery, or inherit a fortune and an island in the Caribbean, though that would be pretty awesome. And this is what I’ve come up with so far:

Stop predicting

No-one does this more than me: I am the original prophet of doom. Even though my predictions are generally way off, I always think I ‘know’ what’s gonna happen. This is so wrong: nobody knows. So don’t do it. Just stop it, okay? Wait and see. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Think new day, every day

Okay, so yesterday was a bummer and gave you a headache. And today you’re not going to take shit from anyone. But, you know what? Today might just be the day someone smiles at you and treats you like you’re a human being. Or you could reverse this and try using the smile technique yourself. It’s amazing the difference a little friendliness and politeness makes. It’s positively contagious, and I mean positively. Try it, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. And it works, too.

Don’t give yesterday’s hurt a free ride

You know how sometimes you are so pissed off about something, you just can’t stop thinking about it? Even though you can’t change it or control it? So, what happens is, you are so intent on replaying your pain that you don’t leave any room for a little joy to sneak into your day. So, thinking that one through, how are you ever going to feel better, to feel happy again? You’re just letting the pain take you over. And that hurts, you know how much. So here’s what to do. Allow yourself one hour a day to obsess on the cause of your unhappiness, no more. Set the alarm if necessary. After 60 minutes switch the thought off. You can go there again tomorrow, and the next day, for as long as you need to. But I think what you will find, if you do this and don’t cheat, is that each time you will need less time to relive your pain. And what does that mean? You will have more time for joy. And that’s a good feeling, right?

I’ll come back to this topic again, so check in from time to time and let’s see if we can keep smiling together.

Happy Holidays!

 

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Is it a viper..?

The saga of our visiting snake continues. This holiday we have been providing visiting opportunities for some of La France Profunde’s native wild creatures. Some wilder than others.
My innocent – bless – relatives were so fascinated with the snake referred to in an earlier post, Wimps Abroad, that they spent some considerable time – when they could have been lazing about, drinking beer and sunbathing, or even playing boules with the locals or doing a spot of gardening – crouched by a hole in our stone garden wall, poking each other and exclaiming ‘It’s moving!’ ‘I can see its head!’ ‘Watch it! It’s coming out!’ and suchlike excited commentary. It was like listening to giddy children watching a live birth.

Instead of rushing to boil water and warm towels, I poured myself a generous gin-and-tonic and left them to it. It was only later, when the photographs were pored over by us and our neighbours, that the question arose: was it, as we’d anticipated, a harmless grass-snake type of serpent, or was it a venomous viper? Apparently it’s all in the eyes, harmless snakes have harmless-looking round eyes: venomous vipers have snake-eyes vertical slits. But the photographs do not prove anything one way or another. The snake did not come out of its hidey-hole and bat its eyelashes, like Kaa in Disney’s Jungle Book. It stayed put and thereby set us all a-tremble. Would it return later and bite one of us when we weren’t looking where we put our big clumsy feet? Would it shimmy up the back wall and slide into the bedrooms at night where we lay asleep and vulnerable? Probably not. We wittered on about these issues at length. It hadn’t been all that threatening, just lurked in its hiding place, keeping its head down. So we drank some more beer and eventually forgot all about it.

Hunters’ Feast

We joined the local hunter’s club for their annual feast yesterday. For six hours we dined on fresh produce, venison, local cheese, cakes and wine in company with around 100 local hunters and their families. A delightful, friendly, fun day, with much warm hospitality and good humour.

The meal was conducted at a leisurely pace, with breaks for the odd unexpected fanfare from a little chap with a genuine French hunting horn, a surprisingly competitive tombola – after which widespread swapping of prizes took place – loud snatches of song and lots of franglais with our nearest diners. Spontaneous outbreaks of applause rippled around the large dining area: I have no idea what prompted these but we joined in merrily, clapped and cheered along, presumably to thank the organisers, the chefs, the horn-player, the singers, the waiters-on and the clearers-away. And, of course, the bold hunters for providing the huge amount of game in the first place. I am no gourmet and have not previously eaten much venison, but theirs was succulent and wine-soaked and very delicious. Even the Bambi jokes didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

 

 

Duck Weather

Today the wood is calm. We awakened to rolls of mist filling the valley, dark skies and not a hint of sun. It’s now noon and I can make out the foot of our garden and tall trees on the valley’s far side. The sun is making brave attempts to break through, though I think it may be closer to evening before the day brightens, if it does. We must watch and wait.

The canicule has departed, leaving us with torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Yesterday we drove to the airport and the journey home was similar to driving in a fishbowl: rivers of water on the autoroute and visibility no more than two metres. Luckily no one was driving in the typical French manner: right up your rear bumper. And today there is no signal to be had on any of our 5 cellphones or the laptop. Such are the joys of summer in South-West France: a feast of delights when the sun shines, dark ages gloom when the storms come. But do we care? Do we ‘eck as like! We can take whatever the weather throws at us, we’re from strong northern stock and used to the unpredictability of UK weather. Just like these two.

Wimps Abroad

Sitting out on the garden swing seat with partner, something rustled nearby. Partner exclaimed, Holy Shit! and gasped that it was a massive snake and that he had just startled it enough that it fled into our cellar. Spent next several hours trying to (a) ignore it and hope that it would go outside again, (b) make noise to scare it to go outside again, (c) with Aussie neighbour, who ‘knows about snakes‘, try to locate it where it was hiding under the staircase to see if it had buggered off. It hadn’t: its black and white zig-zag scales were clearly visible behind some breeze blocks. We gave up, left the cellar door open and went out for the evening. Much mickey-taking from friends about snakes and wimps. Typical, no respect, these Aussies.

Next morning, strong smell of fox in cellar, no sign of snake. Hmmm. Glad we don’t keep hens.

En Vacances…

Here we are, week two in La Belle France. Phew! What a scorcher! is an understatement. Since we arrived, there has been permanent Caricule (heatwave), with warnings on the autoroutes and elsewhere to take care and not do anything too taxing in the heat. So going in the garden has been restricted to the hours before midday and after 6.00 pm. Talking loudly and laughing like maniacs, both of which we tend to do after a few beverages, result in exhaustion and require a lie down in the cool cellar.
We were invited to a BBQ last evening and enjoyed it immensely. There were several nationalities present, in alphabetical order: Australian, British, Dutch, Irish. Fascinating to hear all the different cultures comparing notes on food, customs, language, etc.. Why on earth are we even considering leaving the EU? It’s lunatic, is what it is.