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So, it wasn't actually up until Christmas Eve, and it came down on Twelve
Night, and, apologies for the late posting, but I did manage to assemble a
Patrick O'Brian tree, just in time, and get pictures....
(The house isn't mine, btw - one of the reasons why it went up during

More to see under hatches...Collapse )
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... somewhere, somehow, somewhen... out of the pocket of a big coat borrowed
by two people and finally found (sans keys) in a neighbours house.

A locksmith is required - one who doesn't mind climbing the last mile to the

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The real breakthrough was recognising the problem in the first point - for
which I have to thank Scrivener, which I only installed a few weeks ago.
Being able to break the outline down into smaller and smaller units without
having to juggle dozens of new documents was the key to identifying the lack
of jeopardy in the third act, and start the process of finding a solution.

And as is almost always the case, solution is to be found somewhere in the
very first drafts of the story ...

In other news - the office Intern had the classic office party experience. He
can't actually remember exactly what happened, but it involved the MDs PA,
being delivered home at 1am in a bicycle rickshaw, and waking face down in the
hallway to find his girl friend stepping over him with her suitcase packed
after waiting for him to come home for dinner since 6pm the previous day.

I've made him tea.

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I've been quietly collecting 18th Sailing Navy related Christmas decorations
for what almost 10 years, and never had the chance to pull them out - until

So far I have

2 dashing captains in dress uniform (they are actually nelsons)
3 gold frigates
1 ship of the line
a silver nutmeg of consolation
6 small terrestrial globes
10 drums (to beat to quarters, obviously)
bags of coins as prize money
lots of sugar rats

Any other suggestions?

I'll try to make little signal flags, and some sealed orders, and bake ships
biscuits in the slow oven overnight.

Now I'm on the look out for ship's lanterns, weevils (lesser and greater), a
debauched sloth, some duff (double-shotted), tortoises (Testudo Aubreii,
natch) and, of course, some boobies.

There is a sort of connection to the stone caravan; although the valley is
landlocked great parcels of bleak fell and bog were gifted at some point
Greenwich Hospital, who, with the peace of 1814, thought it would be an
excellent idea to recycle their surplus of naval chaplains in the local

The poor sots were translated from the warm intensely crowded debauched fug of
the wardroom into isolated hamlets 30-40 miles ride from the nearest town,
where their entire congregation would consist of nine shepherds and their
dogs, and where months might pass without a single visitor. Most - already
accustomed to drinking a pint of grog a day - turned to drink and went mad.
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... moths have munched their way through my new (second hand) cashmere
sweater, which I was relying on to keep me warm over Christmas, while it was
in the ironing basket.

And the knitted donkey made for my first ever Christmas.

On a tangent, I'm reading Ellroy's alternative American history, "The Cold Six
Thousand" - which opens seconds after JFK assassination, and therefore shortly
before the first ever episode of Doctor Who was broadcast, and therefore
minutes before my mum went into labour...

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Here it last is the bone of the problem with my story, the hard rotten core in
which I keep chipping my teeth.

In the first working draft "Paul" was smuggling political dissidents and
refuges out of the city in the expectation of a government crackdown.

The stakes were therefore exceptionally high; if "Lily" inadvertently revealed
during interrogation information that led back to "Paul", he would lose not
only his freedom, his career, possibly his life, but also his ability to
protect his family.

So he mistranslated her confession to deflect attention away from his

Alas, further research, plus condensing the material so that it would cohere
as cinema made "Paul the people-smuggler" a non-starter. Not so much because
he couldn't or wouldn't have got involved, but because I couldn't see how
"Lily the forger" could have knowledge of it.

And the 3rd Act no longer worked, because everyone was behaving badly without
sufficient motive. The stakes were just not that high for Paul any more, and
he came across as a neurotic shit.

Every thing I have tried to invoke to replicate that original jeopardy -
without making the story over-complex* - has failed.

(*Good film is simple, not simplistic. The emotional journey can be complex,
the obstacles can be complex, but the hook for the story is simple.)
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I seem to have come over all innocently ridiculously Christmassy this year.

I find myself this morning sneaking into the office at 7.30am to heap
chocolates and clementines on the desk of my German colleague. (I couldn't
find his spare shoes)

And I have an audio version of A Christmas Carol on my MP3 and took it to
enliven the walk to (and queue for) the Post Office yesterday.

Oh, well, I'm sure it will wear off and normal grinchy-ness will resume before
the end of the week.

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... if you call me at 7.05am on a monday morning for a "chat", and don't pick
up the "It's lovely but it's not a good time..." hint, while I try to wrangle
my knickers on onehanded, well, then:

I DON'T get to dry my hair - I DO get to travel to work, in November, with wet
hair and the start of a chill headache;

I DON'T get a seat on the 7.15 train - I DO get to stand on the 7.55 train
with my nose in someones armpit;

I DON'T get an hour of writing done before work - I DO get to rush into work 5
minutes late (and with wet hair);

I DON'T get to check my bag before I run out of the house - I DO manage to
leave without my purse, and therefore without breakfast*. Or Lunch. Or Tea.
Or, even (as the fridge is empty after my weekend away) Dinner.

It's my fault. We should talk more often.
I must arrange proper call times for catch up chats.
But not at 7.05am on a Monday morning.

(Thank you the lovely man in the new coffee shop made me cappuccino anyway. I
love you and I will buy coffee from you every monday for at least a year)
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All trumped by the need for transport.

Since the family moved over the river the cottage is one to one-and-a-half
walk from the bus

And the landrover I borrow from time to time is heading west.

So - the next BIG expense is a road-legal quad bike.

Which (let's face it) is MUCH MORE FUN!

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