Friday, December 16, 2011

When a child is born, a bit too quickly




My wife Nats gave birth to our second child, a son, in the early hours of Tuesday, which was hardly unexpected given all the signs were there that the wee fella was going to come earlier than the date of December 23 we had been given. What we didn’t anticipate was quite how eager he was to come out.

My wife woke up at 1.30am when her water broke. With our first child, Charlotte Elizabeth, we had four hours from this point until birth, plenty of time to drive down to Nairobi hospital, keeping a wary eye for carjackers, who I suspect tend not to moonlight as midwives, so we were a bit casual at first. After 30 minutes, the contractions were coming thick and fast, but we still felt we had time, so I headed round the corner to pick up our friend Zara, who we had woken with a phone call and asked her to come keep an eye on Charlotte.

So far, so good, right? I was gone for exactly 20 minutes, but when I drove into our compound, I heard hoarse, guttural roars from halfway down the car park. Either our noisy neighbour were having another one of their prayer meetings that sound rather more like possession/exorcism than worship, or the labour was progressing rather faster than anticipated. I sprinted up the stairs, and got into the house to find Nats in the guest toilet, announcing rather stridently that “This baby is coming!”

It turns out that while I was gone, Nats had very quickly entered the final phase of labour, and had only Charlotte, who had woken up and was helping her mum, for company. I got to the business end to find out that the baby’s whole head was out, and he was coming whether we liked it or not. There wasn’t even time for hot water and towels, which was probably just as well since I was never sure what they were for.

While Zara sat with Charlotte in her room, Nats gave a final few pushes and I caught the little fella – which was uncharacteristic for me given the one time I played in goals I shipped ten goals. It was 2.40am. He immediately began to cry and was clearly healthy, so I popped him onto Nats’ chest and headed off for blankets and towels. We had to cut the cord, so a pair of kitchen scissors and two clothes pegs were popped in a bucket of boiling water. Charlotte came in for a wee look at her brother before we clamped the cord and cut it. By that point, the placenta had been delivered as well, and was wobbling on the bathroom floor like an evil jellyfish. Nats tells me she poked it a few times out of curiosity before I scooped it up in a plastic bag (which we forgot to clean up before heading the hospital, meaning it sat there stinking out the toilet for a good five hours before I got back to sort it out.)

Zara and Charlotte watched their little brother while Nats showered and got changed, then we headed to the hospital. From then on, it should have been straightforward, but one of Nairobi’s drunk drivers managed to almost hit us when he flew out of a minor road and shot across our path. Then, at the hospital, it took 20 minutes before the midwife managed to get her head around the fact we had arrived with a baby (it was her first home birth) and listen to my requests to perhaps have a look at mother and child to see if they were ok. All was indeed well, and we headed off to our room for everyone to recover, before I went home and began the clean-up operation.

After 36 hours, they were both discharged and are now at home recovering.

Interestingly, we had to put Nairobi Hospital as the place of birth, because if we hadn't we would have needed to find the chief of the area we live in to certify the birth took place. That was hassle we didn't need!

Big thanks to Zara for responding to our emergency and being so calm and supportive, to Charlotte for helping her mum and taking it in her stride, and of course to Nats for being absolutely incredible throughout it all.

A lot of friends have talked about how dramatic it all was, and how they didn’t know how we coped, but to be honest it happened so quickly we didn’t have any choice but to deal. Retrospectively, it worked out rather well, as giving birth in this way avoided the arguments we would have had with the nurses about not wanting an episiotomy and wanting them to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it. The midwives here tend to stick rather slavishly to their routine.

So, all’s well that ends well.

We called our son Kristian Alexander, after our good friend Kristian Kramer, who died in an avalanche in Switzerland almost two years ago. I hope our little fella grows up to be as good, brave and adventurous a man as his namesake was.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I'd like to die please

I really need to take more pictures around Nairobi.

Yesterday morning I saw a man who apparently wished to give himself a menu of horrible ways to die.

He was at the top of a rickety structure comprised of two metal ladders lashed together to give double height. I would say with twine, but that would be dignifying what looked suspiciously like the string you would use to wrap a Christmas present. This ladder he was wobbling atop, about 20 feet off the ground, was leaning on a very tall, but threadbare hedge. He was on a hill, so the ladder was listing to about 25 degrees. He was using a sharp pair of shears to prune the hedge, which sat right on the edge of very busy road. Three feet away from his head was a transformer, attached to a pole leaning at a similar angle with electrical wires sagging.

So, I figure he could have fallen from the ladder, been electrocuted on the way down while stabbing himself in the neck with the shears, cracked his skull on the ground and then been run over by a lorry. I suspect that would have done the job.

Workmen don't do health and safety in Nairobi.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moo, ya bass!


Just a short one to announce two things:

1. The cover art for Apocalypse Cow is now out, as you may have noticed from the picture above. I absolutely love it! You may wish to compare and contrast with these 2006 efforts from pissed-up members of the Budapest writers group when the book was first dreamt up.

2. The rewrite was this morning completed and sent back to the publisher, so things are moving along.

That's it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The “Fanta Pants” Award for Ginger Fiction


A desperate ginger tries to cover his hair with a baby crocodile to avoid mockery

It has come to my attention that despite the litany of literary awards available for specific groups – women, Asian women, African Americans, Christians, LGBT, Christian LGBT Asian African Americans, etc. – there is no prize for one of the world’s most-persecuted minority group: gingers.

So, it is with great pride that I announce the creation of the first “Fanta Pants Award for Ginger Literary Excellence in Face of Societal Persecution of Gingers, Strawberry Blondes and Redheads of All Hues”.

The goals of this award are two-fold: to open up a new world of opportunity for red-headed authors everywhere who have been unable to break into the publishing world and to create an entirely new genre – Ginger Fiction – which will eventually eclipse every other genre out there like a mighty, flaming shock of red hair in a room full of mousy browns.

The reasons for such an award are obvious, but so rarely spoken about given the way gingerism is accepted in every walk of life. Every ginger author must battle the low self-esteem engendered by brutal bullying and marginalization, with society telling us we cannot succeed, we are less than human, just because our hair has a high concentration of the pigment pheomelanin and low levels of the dark pigment eumelanin. It’s just a pigment, people.

Then, those who manage to find the inner strength to shake off the laughs, the taunts, the whispers, the casual violence, the shame of separate toilets (brought in to prevent cross-pubic contamination by the ignorant blondes and blackheads who dominate governments) must face the institutionalized gingerism of the publishing industry. Sure, a few small-time redheads have made it – Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw – but that was a long time ago, and before the advent of the internet and modern forensic techniques that make it possible for “ginger vetting” at publishing houses.

You don’t believe me? Well, one of the Fanta Pants team, with the aid of several tubs of Manic Panic semi-permanent hair colour and sheer bravado, infiltrated top publishing houses in London and New York. What he found was barbaric gingerism at its most rampant. In every publishing house and literary agency visited under the cunning disguise of a chirpy window cleaner, the Fanta Pants investigator witnessed  “search and destroy” teams whose only task is to weed out any “ginger” manuscripts.

For hard copies, a sniffer dog - which was trained to savage red-haired orphan children by one hater before being redeployed - is used to vet each manuscript. If he begins to ferociously attack the package, it is picked up by a runner using rubber gloves and long tweezers, and then burned in the publishing house’s special furnace. The second layer involves passing manuscripts through a scanner specially designed to “light up” any stray hairs. Even a hint of ginger triggers an automatic diversion, which puts the ginger manuscript onto a conveyor belt leading directly to the furnace.

The digital team’s task is to scan emails for any signs that the electronic submission is from a ginger, paying particular attention to people with Irish or Scottish names. They google the author, looking for pictures, and have even been known to send a detective to the homes of prospective authors if there are no images available, or if they are in black-and-white. This team even told our undercover agent they were upset they couldn’t send an email from a ginger to the furnace, and sometimes, to compensate, they would put lots of ginger submissions on a flash drive, urinate on it and then send it to the furnace.

Bearing in mind the above, we invite all ginger authors, from all walks of life and all countries, to throw off the shackles of such mindless hate and enter this competition (rules below). The prize on offer is quite stunning. Not only will you get publicity, kudos and the respect of your ginger peers, you will receive a free copy of my novel, Apocalypse Cow (to be published next year by Transworld, who in ground-breaking fashion have introduced an anti-gingerism policy). The book will be signed and accompanied by a lock of my hair taped to the cover (note: you can choose from head/chest/other).

It is with great anticipation that I await your entries.

Regards,
Michael Logan
Founder (and only) Member of the Fanta Pants Award for Ginger Literary Excellence in Face of Societal Persecution of Gingers, Strawberry Blondes and Redheads of All Hues Foundation

Rules and regulations:

1. You must be a gingernut. Dye jobs don’t count.

2. Any redhead found to have ever dyed his or her hair another colour are traitors and will thus be disqualified (with the exception of any misguided attempts at dying your hair blonde at 15, and ending up looking like your head is covered in yellow snow. Not that I did that or anything).

3. To enter, email a 500-word synopsis of your novel, along with a brief bio, to freelancelogan@fastmail.co.uk. Your novel must focus on issues facing the ginger community, such as the abusive terms that have been used to describe you, failed attempts at copping off with members of the opposite sex and a detailed description of the worst bullying incident you suffered, for example having your head flushed down the lav.

4. On the slight chance anybody is actually tempted to enter this competition, the best entries will be posted on this blog, each receiving a warm round of virtual applause but absolutely no compensation whatsoever.

5. The winner will receive the aforementioned hirsute novel by post when it is published, in May of 2012 (please note: the prize is actually real).

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Kenyan Shining



If ever anybody wanted to make a Kenyan version of The Shining, the Panari Sky Centre would be an ideal choice for the setting.

Looks very shiny and modern, right? In many ways, it is, but step inside past the glass and steel, take the elevator to the second-floor entertainment complex that includes an ice rink, children's center and a closed-down cinema, and you will see what I mean.

We went skating on Saturday to find a handful of people describing forlorn and awkward circles on the melting ice in a barn-like room decorated by sad loops of tinsel that gave the vibe of Christmas in an old folks' home, where the pensioners nod off over their pudding and dream of better days. Outside the rink are two empty glass counters where once you could buy tickets for the two cinema screens, whose entrances look more like the doorways to confessional booths.

In the deserted kids' area you will find: an unbounced-on bouncy castle; a bucking bronco whose flaking plastic skin makes it look like it is suffering from foot-and-mouth disease; a huge plastic fountain, sporting a spooky eagle, where spotlights without bulbs hang limply over an empty basin full of dead flies; one of those machines where you try to pick up a cuddly toy with a crane - except the threadbare toys stare hopelessly out at you with dead eyes, pleading for release from their years of captivity; and a candyfloss salesman who looks like he has to live on his wares, so rare are customers.

Admittedly, the Panari doesn't have the long history of the Overlook Hotel, and most of the ghosts would be of the customers who never came rather than those who indulged in sex, drugs, murder and the occult, but it is a wonderfully creepy location.

I think I feel a short story coming on.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Cyclist's Tricep 1, Nob End Motorist 0

I’ve often been cautioned against cycling in Nairobi, usually taking the form of the question “Are you a complete mentalist?” when I say I use my bike to get around. Despite these concerns, I’ve never found it to be as dangerous as people say and never had a collision – until today.

I was merrily cycling along a quiet back road in Kilimani when a nutbag in a 4x4 zipped past and slapped his wing mirror into my tricep. I heard the sound of his wing mirror smash as I veered into the gutter and fell off.

He clearly knew he had hit me, and accelerated off. Once I’d checked my arm wasn’t broken (it’s fine), I vowed revenge in a manly fashion to a startled gaggle of young white girls nearby and chased him with the intention of remonstrating vigorously (i.e. punching him in the coupon). Over the brow of the hill, I saw his car at the next junction, where it had collided with another vehicle. In his attempt to flee, he had gone onto the wrong side of the road then tried to force his way back in when confronted by an oncoming vehicle.

In true Kenyan fashion, a mob of outraged bystanders had formed, and were giving the guy pelters for hitting me then the other car. He brazenly tried to say he hadn’t seen me, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and then offered to pay for the damage. Considering the damage to my arm was zero, and the damage to his car was a broken wing mirror and a dented front right fender, I felt justice had been done, and cycled off leaving him to the growing crowd of wananchi wanting to have their say.

The offence wasn’t serious enough for a lynching, so I think he is probably ok. He’ll know never to mess with a Scotsman’s tricep again, though.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shag a ginger and save the world

At the risk of sounding a bit like the Gingers Do Have Soulsguy, who took South Park just a little too seriously, I have to scratch my flame-haired noggin in puzzlement at the news Cryos International is notaccepting any more ginger sperm (no, that does not mean each individual sperm swimming around in the average ginger scrotum has a little tuft of red hair).

Just think of all the handsome redheaded men out there, the likes of which we will never see again if the ginger gene – already shamefaced and recessive thanks to centuries of repression – dies off:

Jimmy Somerville
Mick Hucknall
Chris Evans
Shaggy from Scooby Doo
That creepy guy from Twelve Monkeys
Philipp Seymour Hoffman
Me

Ah. Do you know what? You are spot on. Tape over the cock slot on the ginger sperm container (that is how it works, right?) and release all of the stored ginger sperm to forlornly crawl the streets to become crack whores or end it all at the bottom of a bottle.

In all seriousness, though, while there aren’t that many handsome ginger men, there are plenty of smart ginger men, as well as shed loads of hot, smart, talented and funny ginger women.

Here is a real (brief) list of what the world will be missing if the Fanta-pants contingent is frozen out by the cryogenics criminals (courtesy of this list). I’m not going to rehash all of the good-looking female film stars, as all the newspapers have done in their ‘quirky’ news pieces.

1. Margaret Sanger (1879 – 1966) – Ironically, given the situation, Sanger was one of the key early figures in mobilizing American women to push for birth control. 

2. Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) – Yes, that’s right. Churchill, the man who helped to halt old Adolf Hitler in his tracks. Once again, a touch ironic if you consider Hitler’s attempts to create a perfect race. You would all be sporting a toothbrush moustache if it weren’t for this particular redhead. If Winston were still alive, he would ride a tank into the sperm bank, swigging from a bottle of brandy and smoking a cigar, and have a wank into the director’s eye.

3. Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) – Would you like your child to grow up to be like the man who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence? YES PLEASE! You know he was a red head, don’t you? WHAT? NO FUCKING WAY. GIVE ME SOME OF THAT REDNECK SPERM INSTEAD, ANY COLOUR BUT GINGER.

4. Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) – Why have Four Seasons when you can have just one?

5. Napoleon Bonaparte (1761 – 1829) – Admittedly, he may have killed a lot of people, but Europe would have been a lot more boring were it not for the ginger midget rampaging around.

There are many more great examples out there (and some bad ones, including members of Charles Manson’s gang and Oliver Cromwell), but the fundamental point is that the ladies should be queuing up for the fiery little ginger swimmers, not dismissing them. Do the World a favour, ladies, empty the fridges of the ginger sperm or – even better – get out there and bang a ginger. The course of human history depends upon it.

And if you need other reasons to ride a reddie, here are ten that are absolutely 100% true:

1. Fire-hoses are red because their length and girth was modelled on a ginger man's trouser hose;

2. Ginger pubes taste like Fanta, meaning you actually want to get them stuck in your teeth;

3. Ginger hair gives off a satisfying warm glow and lights up the room on a cold night, creating an instant atmosphere of romance (and on one occasion keeping 25 survivors of a plane crash alive in The Andes until help arrived);

4. Silk doesn't come from worm's bottoms, but in fact is woven from strands of pure-breed ginger mustache hair. Find a pure-breed ginger, offer him sex in return for access to his mustache, and you will have a profitable scarf business up-and-running within weeks;

5. Ginger men never pee on the toilet floor in the middle of the night, because their pubic bunch acts as a guide light for aiming;

6. When in public, you can pretend your ginger boyfriend is actually a Care in the Community project, thus making yourself look like a humanitarian and precluding the need to do any real work for your community;

7. In all seriousness, shagging a ginger nut actually is an act of human kindness, so you will get all kinds of kudos in the next life;

8. You boyfriend will likely have very good taste in hats;

9. As gingers go grey, they actually begin to turn blonde, so end up looking like Robert Redford in his golden years;

10. If you cop off with a ginger, you need never worry about infidelity, as nobody else will have him unless they have read this blog and learned the secret reasons for turning to the ginger side. Since three people (counting my mum) read this blog, you are safe as houses.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Daughter, The Tealeaf

All you parents in the UK either feeling proud/shamefaced/confused after their little kiddiewinks went off on a looting and burning spree, I now know how you feel.

This morning, Charlotte (who is two and a small bit), was very excited about going to kindergarten, to the point of jumping into her buggy early and demanding to go. I thought it was just to do with her crush on Mr. Tony, but she then began babbling about eating cake and crips (yes, that’s how she says it).

I realised she was so keen to go so she could steal snacks from the other kids. I knew she had been doing it (banana and cereal bar doesn’t stand up to sugary and salty snacks), but to have thievery as her whole reason to go to school is a bit much.

The other day, in the sandpit in our apartment block, she was even more devious. She wanted a biscuit from one of the other little girls, who was saying no. So, Charlotte invites her to go up the slide with her so they can go down together. She lets the girl go up the ladder first. Once the unsuspecting mug is far enough up, Charlotte runs over to the biscuits, nicks one, and jams it in her mouth. Cue lots of crying from the little girl.

We are trying to tell her stealing is bad, but she is too young to get it and it is also hard to be firm when you are trying not to laugh. In the meantime, I’m going to see if she can lift me a new iPhone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The many faces of Apocalypse Cow

In the vein of looking up random people who share my name (from pro-wrestlers to TV preachers), I thought it would be fun to see how many other people are using the same pun as my first novel, Apocalypse Cow.

Below are the people and companies I will be tussling with in google searches. Luckily, there don’t seem to be any that feature zombie cows. It does, however, show just how hard it is to find a truly original title. 

I had the same problem with the novel I'm working on now. I came up with what I thought was a smart, funny and original title, only to find out Ben Elton had already used it for a book on a different subject (Dead Famous). The new title I came up with is probably better, but I was a bit miffed at the time. At least I won't have to change the title of Apocalypse Cow, as there are no novels with the same name and nobody is flogging the same idea!


A Beer

Apocalypse Cow, by Three Floyds, appears to be a rather tasty brew, according to the reviews it has garnered and the number of people on twitter talking about how much they enjoying supping it of an evening.

A Recording Studio

Chicago-based Apocalypse Cow studios record “everything from industrial rock bands to solo acoustic artists”, and  apparently have a “calf-sized studio, cow-sized sound”.

Grindcore Band

Apocalypse Cow are a somewhat terrifying Netherlands-based Grindcore band, whose songs include screaming, frenetic versions of Love Will Tear Us Apart (Love Will Grind Us Apart) and Smells Like Teen Spirit. If there is ever a movie made of the book, they could scare the hell out of viewers with a demonic soundtrack.

Japanese Anime Festival in The Netherlands

Apocalypse Cow is the theme for a May 2012 Japanese anime festival in Almelo, The Netherlands. They have a rather natty logo, of a giant evil-eyed cow battling a funky robot. I’m actually in discussions with them about doing a signing, although nothing is confirmed since a zombie cow novel doesn’t necessarily fit in with anime. It is a funny coincidence, though, since the book is published a week before the festival begins.

Episode of The Simpsons

If anybody was going to use the same bad pun as me, it was probably always going to be The Simpsons. There is an episode called Apocalypse Cow in which Bart tries to save a cow from the slaughterhouse and accidentally ends up engaged as a result.

A Joke on The Daily Show

Talking of cheesy puns, Jon Stewart also made the wisecrack about Apocalypse Cow earlier this year

A Slot Machine

You can win up to 50 grand playing Ladbrokes’ Apocalypse Cow slot machine.

Weekly Apocalypses

Apocalypse Cow is also the home page of an artist who does rather groovy Weekly Apocalypses.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

When the Dead Walked the Earth - Without Kevin

This post has been removed for reasons I will not reveal in a pathetic attempt to make myself seem enigmatic.

Kenya cops and their guns

You know, I do rather wish that Kenyan police officers would keep their automatic weapons pointed at the ground a bit more often.

I'm sure you've seen the scene in Pulp Fiction, when Samuel L. Jackson is a bit too casual with his handgun and ends up spraying gore out of the back of the kid in the backseat's head. Well, on more than one occasion, a cop has sat down next to me on a bus with his gun clutched across his chest. It is very disconcerting to have a gun barrel waggling around inches from your temple as the rickety old bus jiggles over potholes. I have this strange desire to keep my brain inside my skull, rather than splattered all over the grubby windows of a KBS banger. Call me picky if you like, but that's just the way I feel.

Equally, having two officers sauntering in front of you in a busy shopping center with their guns slung over their shoulders, the barrels swinging around jauntily at head height, makes me feel a touch uneasy. Such moments are the only point in my life I wish I were at least a head shorter. It isn't like the guns are exactly modern either, and who knows whether the safety is on.

Every day you read that the police have bravely shot dead "suspected" criminals in a variety of situations. I do wonder how many of those deaths were of the "my gun went off when I was picking my nose too vigorously and blew a hole in the forehead of a 79-year-old blind cripple, who has just become a notorious criminal" variety.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Campaigner Challenge

I chanced up on this fun competition, where you have to write a 200-word story starting with "The door swung open", and ending with "the door swung shut". I had half an hour to spare, so here's my daft take (alas, I can't win any prizes, as I'm not a member, but hey ho):

This Door Swings Both Ways


The door swung open, as it would only do in the dead of night. It had a reputation for staying stubbornly closed, no matter who came knocking. In truth it just couldn’t trust itself to open: it didn’t want anybody to know it swung both ways.

No.5 was born this way, its double-acting hinges already fully formed. To swing in and out was as natural as could be for it, but society could not accept that. Everyone liked to pretend they were so modern and that each door was free to choose which way it swung. Yet No. 5 knew what lay beneath the tolerant veneer of the other doors ranged alone the leafy street, their letterboxes ready to chatter the instant they spied behaviour that did not belong in such a distinguished neighbourhood.

So it waited until night’s velvety blackness blinded even the beady peephole of the ever-vigilant No. 14, and the only sound was the soft creaking of sleeping wood. It swung (in, then out, in, then out), its wood flushed rose with pleasure, its hinges trembling with delicious friction, until the first blush of dawn tinged the sky.

Then, with a satisfied sigh, the door swung shut.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Getting real

I was rather surprised last week to see Apocalypse Cow (avert your eyes now if shameless name dropping makes you feel queasy), which won Terry Pratchett's first novel prize, available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk, and also listed on amazon.com and amazon.ca. The publication date for the trade paperback and eBook is May 10 next year, so it is still a long way away, and I can only imagine the most hardcore of forward-planners (step forward my wife Nats, who keeps asking me about my five-year plan when I don’t even have a five-minute plan) will place orders now. 


Having said that, I have crept up the sales charts to a stupendous 297,699, which means that at least a few pre-orders have been place, although I don’t think David Nicholls, Dr Pierre Dukan and Kathryn Stockett need worry unduly about being knocked off their perch at the top just yet.


Not that I'm complaining. Seeing it up there for sale brings home the reality, which I have been struggling to accept. I don’t know if this is a first-author thing, or if it is because I am a miserable Scot who usually expects the worst possible outcome from every scenario, but I keep expecting the rug to be pulled out from under my feet, upending me onto my bony behind.

I’ve been like this the whole way through. When I submitted the novel to the Pratchett Prize, I did so at Nats’ insistence, as I was convinced it would never win. On the day the shortlist was to be announced, I wasn’t even thinking about it. When the initial elation of getting the email saying I had made the six-author shortlist faded, I then began waiting for another mail saying a mistake had been made. When that didn’t come, I convinced myself it would never win. When it did win, along with David Logan’s Half Sick of Shadows, I once again waited for the inevitable admission an error had been made. Then I kept expecting Transworld to change their minds, and pull the novel. And so on.

I think I have now just about accepted I am going to be a published author, but that isn’t going to stop me worrying. I can now turn my fruitless fretting to the fear of bad reviews and people not liking the book.

It just goes to show you can take the boy out of Glasgow, but you can’t take Glasgow out of the boy.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Who need enemies...

...when you have friends like my former boss at The Budapest Times, Allan Boyko. Allan seemed to very much enjoy taking the piss out of me for the Pratchett Prize win in the article below. I would like to point out I actually didn't see the child, and was only smiling because I was about to run into the underground and escape the horse charge, not because I was having an insane amount of fun rioting.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Pratchett Prize day out

One week after Apocalypse Cow won the Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now 1st Novel Prize along with Half Sick of Shadows, by David Logan, I have finally got it into my thick skull that I am going to be a published author.

Now, a measured, intelligent individual would think more carefully about what goes on his blog, as some people other than his wife may eventually start reading it. Not me! I am going to continue to spout utter tosh.

I wasn’t going to bore everybody with the details of last Tuesday, but I’ve had a few requests for more information, so I suppose I must.

First, though, I’d like to categorically deny the many accusations that the ginger Logan mafia stitched up the competition by kidnapping the judges’ family members and holding them at gunpoint in the children’s section of Waterstones Piccadilly. We used knives, and locked them in the basement.

The day of the award was very long, stretched out by the fact I spent the kind of restless night a child has waiting for Santa to squeeze down the chimney. In my case, it felt like Santa had gorged his beardy face on one too many mince pies and caught his flabby gut on the brickwork, so long did the night last. Finally, however, dawn broke and we jumped on an Easy Jet flight (hey, we’re still poor) down to London.

Much of the day was spent in nervous anticipation, partly in our friends’ Perry and Matthew’s flat, partly in Paula’s Café in Hoxton, where I alternated between stuffing fish and chips into my mouth and practicing my author face in case I won:



I clearly have some work to do, as my attempts to look authorial fell well short and landed in the area of “squinting into the sun/ready for a nap”.  Rest assured, I will be studying other author portraits to search for just the right air of gravitas, although maybe I would be better off sticking with my usual gormless expression since my book is perhaps not the most serious work of fiction you will ever read.

Happily, P&M’s flat turned out to be located in a neighbourhood ideal for a location in my next novel (in progress), so I managed to get some research in, which involved sitting on their balcony, smoking and drinking tea, while I took lots of pictures. Half-arsed research over, and unable to sit still for longer than a millisecond, I hauled Nats down to Waterstones Piccadilly early. It turns out this was a good move, because it gave me the opportunity to chat with the lovely Dave Beynon, whose novel The Platinum Ticket was also shortlisted (Dave would have been an equally worthy winner, and I am sure he will have no problem finding a publisher for his work). 



It turns out we had both been desperately searching for clues as to our chances, stopping just short of consulting the tea leaves, and continued to analyse every eyebrow twitch and glance in our direction from the Transworld people.

Sir Terry obviously doesn’t watch the X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, and thankfully did not insert a screamingly tense 30-second pause before announcing the names of the winners – although I must admit, I did feel a lot like a talent show contestant, as the following picture taken by Nats just before the announcement shows:



David Logan was announced as the first of the joint winners, leaving one place for the remaining five shortlisted candidates. When Sir Terry said the second novel had won “despite the awful pun”, I knew it was me. To be honest, I can’t remember too much about what came next. I know I made a short speech. I can only hope I didn’t say anything too stupid, although the chances of such an occurrence are quite slim. I know I posed for some pictures. You may notice that my cheesy grin somewhat ruins the moody vibe of the black clothes sported by the two winners and Sir Terry, so I at least know I was happy.





I then had a brief chat with Sir Terry, a longer chat with his right-hand man Rob (henceforth to be known as ‘The Enforcer’), and Marianne and Lynsey from Transworld, and was introduced to Simon, the editor who will face the unenviable task of knocking my manuscript into shape. David and I, along with our family and friends, were the last to leave the bar, which I can assure you had absolutely nothing to do with the free booze and canapés being handed out.

P&M took us to the Vista Bar at Trafalgar Hotel, a rooftop joint boasting amazing views of London’s skyline, where we were joined by our old pal Carol and drank quite a few cocktails before staggering out onto the streets in search of a taxi.



All-in-all, one of the best days of my life – behind my marriage to Natalie and the birth of our daughter Charlotte.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Award-winning documentary

David McKenzie, the CNN correspondent based here in Nairobi, has won an award for his heartbreaking documentary on the appalling treatment of people with mental disabilities in Kenya

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/05/24/uk.cnn.wins.amnesty.award/index.html

I am generally a bit hard-hearted, but this had me getting a bit emotional.

Congratulations David.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Attention Ugandans: Notorious Bum Driller at Large

Yes, this is a real article, from Uganda's ultra-homophobic Red Pepper. Sinister and funny in equal measure. Considering Mutumba appears to have more than one bum, it is perhaps no surprise he is being targeted by the bum-drilling gang.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Apocalypse Cow shortlisted

Apocalypse Cow is on the shortlist of six authors for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Prize:

http://www.terrypratchett.co.uk/index.html

First prize is a cheeky wee advance and publishing contract. Winner to be announced on May 31. Guess I have a tense wait on my hands!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The many faces of Michael Logan

There are many Michael Logans out there, as a quick trawl through Google Images in an idle moment revealed, and so many magnificent alternate lives that could have been mine, had I been just a shade more fortunate.

Of the many Michaels out there, I have selected the finest specimens - Michaels I myself would be proud to be - and present them here to you, one by one in order not to dissipate their glory.

Wrestler Michael 

Behold my splendour! Gape at my awesome muscles! Marvel at my two-tone dye job! Gasp as I crush a walnut with MY BARE HANDS! Tremble as you imagine toweling down my sweaty body! Admire what might be a beard or just some lint clinging to the underside of my lip! Marvel at my fake pearls, purchased at the WalMart conveniently located a five-minute pick-up-truck ride from my trailer park! Do not confuse my fearsome stare with Strabismus, which I was diagnosed with as a child but have managed to completely disguise by being COMPLETELY FUCKING HARD!

Ejaculate as you imagine me and my live-in partners and wrestle buddies, Hamshank Hank and Devon Casey, writhing naked together beneath the cowhide blanket that covers our grubby bed! Nod in sympathy as you imagine all the hair that clogs the drains in our shower, which I have to pick out because Hank and Devon are filthy! Cluck in disgust as you picture Hank stealing my spare pair of pink shorts because he soiled his (again) after drinking 20 Pabst Blue Ribbon and passing out on the floor, weeping and dreaming of what could have been if only he had the talent, in front of WWE SmackDown!

Do not be taken in by the cheesy glamour of this other wrestling Michael Logan (aka The Canadian Gigolo, or the Sexual Intellectual) who is totally nowhere near as sexy as me! Laugh at his attempt to boost his sex appeal by getting his granny to lather on the lipstick and kiss his nasty speedos! Mock the fact his wristbands are way too tight, making his hands a completely different colour from the rest of his permatan body!

And, finally: send me some money, as my wrestling career hasn't taken off the way it should have, I'm three months behind on my alimony payments and my Doberman needs a new kidney!