I'm one of those 'old fashioned' sort of fellas. Never really thought much about it growing up, to be honest. Mammy Jester would instill into us manners using 'The Fear Approach' which basically came down to fear of being clapped up the side of the head or publicly embarrassed for not displaying basic manners.

Not good manners, basic.

Basic manners include simple things like giving up your seat for an elderly person or obviously pregnant lady on the bus. Not just because you are sitting in the designated seating area, but because that is what good, basic, mannered people do. Holding doors open for people, offering to carry something heavy for somebody clearly struggling.

Basic stuff.

You won't be going out winning any awards with such manners, but you will be doing something nice for a stranger at the end of the day.

It is something I have partially carried through into my later years. Only the other week I was on a train home and managed to get that most fabled of things: a seat. I dropped down, opened my book and started reading. At the next stop a crowd of people boarded the carriage and a woman stood next to me.

She wasn't pregnant or infirm, but she looked bollocks tired and had a big bag of shopping with some young kid toys on top. As she stood next to my seat I got up and offered it to her. She protested, even making the joke that I didn't think her holiday weight was a baby, and only took the seat because I insisted. She was very grateful and you could see it did make a difference to her day.

Basic manners.

Lately my pregnant wife, The ladyfriend, has been having a great deal of trouble getting similar basic manners from people on her train. Primarily males. She is what doctor's describe as a 'neat bump', but is still carrying a baby and not just taking two desserts at dinner. Yet most mornings when she gets onto the train she has to ask people sitting in the priority seats would they mind moving so she could sit down.

The last time she did this the guy actually complained that he had to give up the seat. This, boys and girls, is what we call an unmitigated asshole.

I'm not saying that the ladyfriend should automatically be offered the seat (although...she is nor am I a secret Feminazi (seriously I hate those lot, particularly the ones who want to get rid of 'Father's Day' because it is offensive to single mothers but have no issue with 'Mother's Day'...) I'm just wondering how basic manners seem to have totally left the commuting public.

This morning is a prime example of what is wrong with the departure of basic manners. Ladyfriend gets on the train, it's packed, but now she has been beaten down. She no longer wants to argue with people to get a seat. As she stands there another woman calls out to her and offers her her seat. Ladyfriend declines because the woman is sitting in by the window, has a lot of stuff to pack away if she is going to move, and doesn't want to cause any hassle. Meanwhile the guy in the aisle seat just watches the conversation unfold and says nothing.


He let's the woman pack up her bits, then complains when she has to slid past him then makes the Ladyfriend slid into the now empty seat.

Whatever about basic manners surely common sense would have made him think about offering his own seat.

I dunno, the more I learn about humans the more I love my dog.


Small Stolen Update


Nothing much to report sadly on the progress of book four in the Filthy Henry series. I'm still on draft number three, currently working on chapter twenty, and my little notebook of work doesn't seem to be getting any smaller.

One note, that I had written during draft two, just has the words 'Chapter 19 is utter crap, redo it all'.

It appears that past-me is a very harsh critic and wants present-me to do a sizable amount of work.

Isn't that always the way? Some wise-guy delegating tasks he should do himself to others, only to come along and steal all the credit at a later date when the job is done.

Just that thought alone has enough madness in it to warrant a Philip K. Dick style story about time travel or something.

On the plus side I'm happy with how the book is currently going, even if it is taking a little longer. Of course that may boil down to the fact it is the longest one in the series yet. Currently sitting at thirty chapters. I'm not sure what the page difference is and don't want to put that here as it will change by the time the final draft is completed. But that's thirty chapters with me being a hard editor who cuts entire scenes that don't work right.

I can only wonder if I make it to thirty chapters when I'm done with the book.




I've spoken before about how when I am writing I like to get into the habit of doing it daily. The five hundred words a day, minimum, limit to hit or one full page, again at the minimum, edited so that little by little the book gets done.

It all sounds pretty easy to do and most of the time it is, but there is one thing about Life that not everyone factors in.

Life is a bastard that likes to get in the way of you doing things by making you busy. All the time.

I follow a few writers and content creators online and one of them had an interesting answer to the question "How do you keep focused on creating content when you have a hectic work schedule?".

The person being asked the question is a gamer at heart and figured that forming the creating habit was not enough for him, but that his mind might be wired in such a way that there was another approach he could take. Incorporating a gaming aspect into his daily content creating habit.

He went off a got an app on his phone that basically alerts him each day at a set time and asks if he has hit his daily content creation target. Tapping on the positive button increases his habit score and gets fed into this little graph within the application that, over time, can be used to see when he hits his target and on what days he actually has to be pinged first to create something.

It sounded like a gimmick if I am being honest. But I'm a gamer at heart as well and figured I might just go ahead and try it out. The first week didn't really do anything for me as I was hitting the target with ease. But as the score crept into double digits I started to get an 'itch' in the back of my mind. My alert fires at ten p.m. every day. The closer I got to that time without doing my writing task the worse the itch got. After a month of using the application I was able to see that at the weekends I am particularly productive because I can get the writing done during the afternoon, typically, but during the week my sweet spot is Tuesday to Thursday.

As a stats junkie it is interesting. But the gamer in me is now worried. My score is currently 113. That's 113 consecutive days working on 'Stolen Stories' without fail.

Failure is not an option, but it is a possibility. Some day Life is going to get all its ducks in a row and sweep the legs right out from under me.

Bringing me right back to 0.

But for now the game is afoot and I'm going to keep using that score to drive me forward. I'm genuinely intrigued to see what my score will be once I am completely finished with 'Stolen Stories'.

Moreso because then the question will be do I let the score reset while I move onto the next project (something a little different, but more on that closer to the time) or do I continue with the same one...