Behind the Blogger – Tag

My blog has been running properly for about nine months now and I have only ever done one blogger tag. So today, I was inspired (and tagged) by the wonderful SimplyAlexJean to try the ‘Behind the blogger’ tag.

This tag was originally created by Olivia Lucie Blake and is a great way to explore some interesting facts about the blogging community. The trouble is, I really had to scratch my head for anything remotely intriguing to talk about. Anyway, here are my four facts and I shall be tagging others at the end to join in with this tag, if they fancy.

I am a total theatre geek

Once or twice I may have mentioned my fascination with theatre but I don’t just love watching shows, I also am obsessed with knowing the intricate details about production. More than this, I absolutely love standing outside the stage door, waiting hopefully for actors’ autographs and selfies.

Although Idina Menzel never actually emerged for signings, pretty much everyone else I ever waited patiently for, did give me their squiggle. My stage door sessions have enabled me to meet the likes of: Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton, Jennifer Saunders, Roman Atkinson, Jim Broadbent, Samantha Spiro, Catherine Tate, Jane Horrocks and Imogen Poots.

I never knew my dad

This is a fact that doesn’t really upset me but, I like to think, it makes me who I am. My dad wanted nothing to do with my mother when he got her pregnant and was never there for me as a child. It made me much closer to my mum and grandparents as a result. Part of me wonders if I have any half-brothers and sisters but I guess I will never know. I did try dna testing to find relatives but everyone so far has shown up on my mother’s side of the family.

At school I played the cello

When we were at primary school the teachers gave us all a music test. I remember it being about rhythm and notes but had no idea at the time what it was for. It turned out that I scored the highest out of my year group and was offered free music lessons and the chance to join the local kids’ orchestra. Having a choice of violin, cello or flute, I opted for the biggest.

For the next year I found myself carrying this massive beast of an instrument on my back for my mile and a half walk to school. By the way, when I went to school, everyone walked with their friends. Nobody ever was escorted by their parents. (I think that helped make people a bit more independent)

My mum kept complaining that the cello was too noisy and I got fed up of tripping over under the weight of it. One time I fell and grazed myself all over so I decided enough was enough. I quit the cello despite being quite good at it and I honestly regret it to this day.

I’ve been an Extra

A few years ago I wanted to try going part time at work and finding time to do TV and film ‘extra’ work once in a while. It was such a fun thing to do and I am still registered with a casting agency today. The only thing that stops me doing it these days is the requirement to attend onsite covid testing a few days before each shoot.

Spending time on sets was fascinating for me. I got to pretend to be a mortuary assistant first of all in a drama called ‘White House Farm’. The thing that surprised me the most was the fact that even with such a small scene there were so many other people around the set. I remember thinking, ‘Where are all these people going to go when we start filming?’ As it happened, a lot of them simply crouched down during a ‘take.’

It was hilarious for me because I had been given some new green wellie boots which were extra squeaky. Being asked to walk back and forth in the back of shot sounded easy. In fact, everything was made quite tricky because there were so many technical people crouched down around the room. So walking in a straight line became a game of ‘avoid the crew’, coupled with ‘don’t let the wellies squeak.’

Thank you so much for reading these random facts about myself. I would now like to nominate the following bloggers to have a go at the ‘Behind the Blogger’ Tag.

Confidently Kayleigh

Unwanted Life

TheGrumpyOlive

I am grateful to have been included in this tag. For more blog articles about books, entertainment and the environment, please consider following my blog.

Short Dates – My Book Extract

Today I wanted to give some new life to my original short stories from 2018. My very first story was about a guy stuck in a snow drift who came across a potential romance. From there I went on to build a book of short stories of varying length. This is an extract from my shortest story, about parenting.

Revisiting

My head still ached from two nights ago but I was happy to get up and spend the day with her. Sizzling bacon greeted me when I got downstairs and mum seemed attentive as she poured me a coffee and suggested I take a few paracetamol.

‘How does it feel to be an adult?’ she asked.

‘Same really,’ I replied honestly.

‘Two day hangover, haha. Well today we can just relax and see some wild animals up close.’

‘Yeh, I haven’t been to the zoo since I was little.’

‘I remember taking you when you were six.’

 

On the road, mum played my favourite music and I was able to chill out and let the world pass me by. The sun was striking through the wispy clouds in shards and mum seemed happy driving but slightly quieter than usual. It took me back to all those occasions when, as a child, she had ferried me around to cubs, from football matches and between friends’ houses. She had always been there for me and never let me down. We always had a day close to my birthday when it was just me and her, mother and son time. She had kindly funded a private party for me and 30 friends on Thursday to celebrate my 18th and now was my turn to hang out with her. We had always been close and I knew that soon I would be off to uni and leaving her on her own. She would be alright but I reckoned it would be hard at first for both of us.

 

We queued for tickets and were soon inside, wondering past monkeys, watching a tiger stride around its glass framed grassland and trying to spot chameleons which were camouflaged magnificently in a tiny jungle. After a while mum wanted us to get our lunch and we opened our picnic not far from the giraffe compound. From where we sat, we could see a tall, majestic giraffe looming over the other animals, munching on leaves which it had grabbed from overhanging trees.

 

‘It is great being here again, mum.’

‘ I love this giraffe,’ she said.

‘Apparently he was an orphan when they got him,’ I told her.

‘Well he has been well looked after by the zoo.’

‘Yes, he has been here since I was born, according to the sign.’

‘Hehe, that is why I chose here. He is as old as you…well…maybe just a little older,’ she said.

 

A group of tourists filtered past and we fell silent for a moment or two, munching on egg sandwiches and sipping Ribena. The whole thing was beginning to feel like a school trip now.

 

Suddenly the bench seemed remote. A drop in the crowd led to a more stilted conversation. Mum got a sudden burst of confidence. She lifted her head and looked into my eyes. I had never seen this side of mum since grandad died. Her hand seemed shaky as it lay on her lunch box. She gathered her words into some very composed sentences which would eventually change my entire outlook on life.

 

I gulped as she began slowly.

‘You know you mean the world to me, Matthew.’

Her using my full name indicated the level of importance that this conversation must bring.

‘Of course, mum. What has happened. Is it Nan?’ I felt like I knew that it wasn’t but needed to at least check.

‘Nan is fine. It is about me… and you’ her words lingered and her face flushed.

‘What is it? Are you unwell?’

‘That giraffe was brought here because it had no family. It has grown up into a formidable beast. Everyone comes to see it. It is incredibly popular.’

At this point, my mind still did not join the dots.

‘Eighteen years ago you came to me. The best thing that had ever happened to me. A single woman wanting desperately to bring a child into the world. Then there came you.’

She was being all dramatic now.

‘But I could never have children of my own. My uterus didn’t grow properly. You came to me as a gift.’

My head was whirling round. Had I been a miracle?

‘I love you very much indeed. Your real mother was dying when she gave birth to you. I had the honour of bringing you up for her.’

My heart stopped.

I was adopted.

AD – Thank you for reading my extract and please check out my book on Amazon. It is available at no extra cost using Kindle Unlimited or for 77p.

 

 

 

 

Intriguing – A Potential Story Snippet

Check out this story starter that I wrote recently. I hope that it makes you wonder about the characters and upcoming drama. I would love to read your feedback below.

Chapter One (Jack)

 

There are lots of exciting things going on in this town at any given moment. When I moved here, though, I had no idea that a place could be this messed up. Just three years ago I packed up all of my belongings and made the bold move up North, away from the London fringe that  encapsulated my rather sheltered childhood. It had taken me about three years to save up enough of a deposit to lay down on a two bedroom house in what appeared to be a beautiful historic town, nestled between the hills of Yorkshire. Little did I know, this place was full of weirdness; riddled with gossips, intrigue and a strange sense of community which presents itself as a shield under which dark personalities seem to lurk, menacingly. Who would have thought that it would be my job to draw out these menaces and expose them?

 

 

Having worked in advertising for some time, I felt I was now in a position to start my own business. One of my old mates from University was working for a law firm near York and he had offered me a contract to begin designing a package to help advertise their continued expansion. The advance for this alone had secured my office right in the centre of this fascinating little country town. I also had a former colleague who had just moved to Yorkshire with her girlfriend and she had offered her services if I decided to go it alone. Seema was a graphic designer and already had most of the equipment she needed to get us started. It seemed only fair that I made her a partner when we registered the firm. Everything was set in motion. Back then it all seemed perfect. Such a wonderful business opportunity. A chance to move away from the folks and make my mark on a new community.

 

I was determined to throw myself straight in by joining a club, maybe trying the local gym, getting onto a dating website and keeping myself as busy as possible. It was going to feel so refreshing not living at home and having to sneak in quietly after a night out. Finally I had the freedom to do whatever I liked, whenever I felt like it. This town, Olding, was going to be the place where I made my fortune. I could already feel the good vibes as I took my very first stroll down to the local supermarket.

 

Small but convenient, this independent little store had absolutely everything you could need. Next to the groceries were shelves full of DIY tools. Just around the corner was curtain fabric, right before paints and brushes. Then, before you reached the checkout, there was even a selection of underwear to peruse. It was a supermarket with a difference. It bordered on being a mini-department store but with slightly less sophistication. The owners certainly tried hard though. It was very clean, lit well and had useful signage.

 

I had followed the sign that led to beverages and noted the two diagonal arrows reaching down from it. One stated, ‘fizzy drinks’, whilst the other was labelled, ‘booze.’ I chuckled as I read that one and picked up a four pack of lager before moving on. Five packets of crisps and a sausage roll later, I was in the queue, feeling entertained by the seemingly elderly lady processing the goods at the checkout. She was incredibly quick. If scanning products was to become an Olympic event, she would win gold, hands down. The fascinating thing was that she worked swiftly but was still able to chat non-stop, engaging with the customers on a very personal level, without breaking a sweat or showing any signs of being out of breath. For what seemed like an eighty year old, she had a lot of stamina.

 

She glanced at me briefly, smiling as I placed my stuff onto the conveyor belt. The young guy in front of me was busy checking his phone.

 

“You going to pack your bags, Tom?” she asked politely.

He looked up, surprised that his shopping was already through.

“You get faster every day,” he sniggered as he went to collect up his milk, eggs and bread and shove the lot all into a flimsy plastic bag.

“Mind it don’t break. These bags are getting thinner and thinner,” she warned before reading out the total.

 

She went to open up a few more bags for me but I stopped her in her tracks.

“I have my reusable bags with me.”

“Oh, you’re one of them.” She turned to Tom and winked.

He smiled back at her and looked at me curiously.

“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to the yocals. It just takes a bit of time.”

With that, he marched off, holding his bag in one hand and trying to text with his other.

 

“If you buy two of these you get a quid off,” she pointed out as she raised the sausage roll to scan it.

“Thanks. Can I go back and get it?” I asked, backing out and returning to the chiller.

By the time I had returned, she had packed my things and was waiting for me, expectantly.

“Wow! You didn’t have to do that!”

“Haha I even used your special bags,” she grinned as I handed her my tenner.

“Not bad value either,” I said as she gave me fifty pence change.

 

She seemed to hang on to it a bit longer than expected. As we both touched the coin, she whispered, “I like you. You will be popular around here.”

Nobody else was in the queue but I got the feeling she was trying to tell me something.

“Just keep your wits about you. Have a good day.” She seemed to mutter the first part and announce the last bit confidently, so that anyone overhearing would tell that she was using good customer service etiquette. Not being a very suspicious person, I came away thinking that this very friendly cashier was a reflection of the new town I’d chosen to live in. Lovely, genuine people in a picture postcard setting. You never would have imagined that she was going to be so important to me in the months ahead. She was to be my guardian angel.

This is taken from a draft that I started a year ago and recently rediscovered. Now that I look at it with fresh eyes I wonder if it will make a reasonable beginning to my next novel. Let me know what you think. I won’t be offended if it seems dull. For a sample of my new YA book simply click here. If you enjoy my writing then please consider following my blog for similar future content.