Spoiling Christmas


Christmas ice cream. try it, you’ll love it.

Been ages eh?

I bet you thought this blog was over with but I’ve just been a tad overwhelmed with other stuff. Why does writing always feel like the last thing you should be doing.

Anyway, here’s a festive ramble…a bit of a rant to exorcise a Yuletide ghost or few…


‘You’ve spoiled my Christmas,’ he said.

I was distraught. How could I have been so cruel? Christmas was clearly a lot more important than I’d ever realised. I’d grown up a Jewish kid, I just didn’t know this stuff. Clearly spoiling Christmas was a big deal, I vowed never to do it again.

I asked what other festive rules I needed to learn. I’d accidentally spoiled that first should-have-been-special Christmas by being too tired to go to a party on Christmas Eve. Who knew they were compulsory?

I tried a lot harder the following year.… Read on...

Broadening the mind?

After interviewing the famous and fabulous Martin Crosbie recently, I realised that he was the second Scot-transplanted-to-Canada to feature in a podcast. Then there’s me, a Londoner in Ontario. You may recall, I asked him if he thought the whole emigration thing had contributed to his writing, and we mused about outsiderness for a while. Intrigued, I went to the other blog I write for regularly, Indies Unlimted, and perused the other staff writers on the Indies Bio Page.  I realised that about half of us have moved from somewhere to somewhere else.

Not a scientific survey I’ll grant you but I wondered about the connection and decided to write about it. I asked some of the minions, “Did you become a writer because you travelled, or did you travel because you’re a writer?”
and “Writers often consider themselves to be outsiders, observing life. Did learning to adapt to new cultures foster this aspect of your personality?”

 You can read the resulting Indies Itchy Feet Vox Pop here.Read on...

Only your Mum will read it…

Well, you may have noticed a brief hiatus, in the review/interview schedule. Life got in the way somewhat, and the whole voice-losing thing has been a bit inconvenient for podcasting. I will introduce you shortly to the amazing lady who wrote about setting up women’s clinics in Afghanistan, shortly before the rise of the Taliban, she’s one gutsy lady.

But in the meantime, I’m going to reprint a post originally written for the peerless Indies Unlimited, a blog by writers for writers. I’m not sure why I feel the need to defend non-fiction in general and memoirs in particular, but I do, and here’s my take…

Oh and by the way, if you fancy winning a paperback copy of TIE, the Goodreads Giveaway is open until May 10th!

 A version of this article first appeared on Indies Unlimited on Dec 12 2012

Why do people write non-fiction? I don’t mean the dry sort that people who ‘don’t have time for fiction’ read.… Read on...

Getting angrier

A nasty surprise upon opening the shed for one elderly lady this week.

The wasps, that is, not me.

An odd consequence of this terrible summer`s weather is that we’re getting busier than ever, just when the season is usually calming down. And this is all to do with what’s happening on the inside.

Nobody has been troubled by the wasps in their roof voids and bay windows up until now because they’ve not been out gardening and barbecuing to be buzzed. So they’ve just left them alone thinking ‘they’ll die off soon’. Which of course they will, but only after the nest produces a thousand or so new queens to hibernate nearby and make next year’s nests. These sleepy ladies toddle off out of the nest to look for places to hide and quite a few of them toddle inside. Ergo, the people who were’t being bothered by their wasps last month have roomfuls of them now.… Read on...


Well the wasping continues apace, the little darlings are finally getting busy and noticable, after a dismal start to the season.  As more people find them  the daftness ramps up a little. I mentioned a week or so back that there has been no expanding foam high jinks yet, and—whaddaya know?—this week we have high jinks involving many and various sorts of foam. And cement.

One of the many things not to do!

Here is a picture of one of the things not to do to a wasps’ nest, and some foam, but not the expanding sort. This is the kind of foam that you buy for killing wasps with, so it makes some sort of intuitive sense until you read the instructions, which are all about how to use it on an exposed nest. If you spray it all round the entrance to a nest tucked away in a wall cavity it appears to sort of work, ie it kills a load of wasps, but it makes bugger all difference to the queen and the lavae on the inside.… Read on...

The fun and the foolish

This is way too much fun

Well it’s been a mixed week here at Waspie HQ, the supreme fun of a go on a cherry-picker and some serious silliness. The wasps’ nest that was approached by way of powered machinery was, actually, just about reachable with a very long lance but who wouldn’t go for a ride?

The chap in charge of this marvellous powered machinery was supposed to be painting when he was stalled by said nest, so he was more than happy to drive a waspie heavenwards, offer support, assistance and a guided tour of all the mechanical bits. I do like mechanical bits.

In other news, it’s been a week of impossible-to-find houses and other dimwittery. It would appear that the posher you are, the less likely you will be to bother to give your house a number. Fancy Lodge, Superior Lane may be an address to conjure with but it requires hapless contractors and other tradesman’s entrance types to waste half an hour of a busy day crawling along posh lane, trying to read the tiny name on every sodding gatepost.… Read on...

Competition the second

Odd, the things you find in Lancashire.

Well, this year’s second competition is finally under way. The first comp was for the most unusual place for a nest, the next is for the silliest thing to do to one before we arrive. So far I’ve not had any expanding foam stuffed in the hole, just bluetac and masking tape.

Stuffing the hole where the wasps are going in and out seems to be everybody’s instinctive reaction, which only makes sense until you realise that most of the wasps are…on the inside.

“My husband blocked the hole and now we’ve got wasps in the house.”
“Really? Do you think these might be connected?”

The blutac did this, the masking tape didn’t.

“We covered the hole with tape but they seem to be eating it.”
“You gave them building materials Ma’am, they’re using it to extend the nest.”

But, stupidity-wise that all pales into insignificance beside,

“I poured some petrol on and set light to them but that just seems to have made them cross.”

The “No shit, Sherlock” was thought rather than uttered.… Read on...

The competition begins

The competition for the strangest place to find a wasps’ nest, that is. Last year we decided that the car exhaust pipe took 1st place, followed by the golf bag in 2nd and the chicken coop taking bronze. (See what I did there? Little Olympic reference for you.)

The first 2012 contender

This year has been pretty boring so far, bird  boxes, garden sheds, under eaves, inside the void behind fascia boards. I do tend to get a bit confused between fascias, flashing and soffits when referring to people’s roofing apparatus so I’d just had a revision session with the boss and drawn myself some diagrams when I rolled up to a lady who told me ‘they’re all going in and our under me suffixes’. I had no right to giggle really.

But then it happened, this year’s first entry, the nest in a concrete mixer.

Not a bad commute


It’s still a bit quiet, 3 or 4 nests a day, nothing near last year’s mayhem  of 17-20 callouts a day, not counting the ones we were to busy to catch on the phone, but that has given me  the time for a bit of scenic photography.… Read on...

The idiocy has begun

This year’s prettiest bee swarm to date

Well, it’s been a quiet week at the wasp face, the torrential rain has kept everybody indoors, instead of out gardening and barbecuing and generally finding their wasps, but the few nests I’ve been out to have been getting bigger and busier. So we know they’re there.

The idiots have crawled out of their lairs too, three classic annoyances this week. The general public at large have many and various ways of driving one nuts. I ranted here about the stupidity and thanklessness of the people one visits in the course of a day and much though the jobs change, the annoyances remain remarkably similar. No doubt as the season progresses there will be more wasp-related pillockry but three of the classics annoyed me by all happening the same day.

Annoyance 1…not doing as you’re told. We offer a free call-back if we’ve not completely destroyed the wasp colony, so long as people leave it alone.… Read on...

But I’ve got a baby!

No, not me, I’ll explain in a moment.

Before the seasonal declaration of apostrophe manoeuvres

It’s been a quiet week here at wasp HQ, I’ve been out to a few wasps’ nests but the weather has been so dreadful that nobody is outside to notice they have wasps. Of the nests I’ve seen, one was still just being built by a single queen*, most had a few workers hatched and one was really busy with a second hatching which provided sufficient workers for an attack batallion. The Boss reckons it will go nuts any day now, the second hatching is when people start to get upset and beg for help.

People have been mostly nice so far this year. The sort who thank you for turning up so fast and express an interest. One lady told me she was pleased to have been quizzed on the phone about whether she had wasps or bees and had found my fancy new webpage most informative.… Read on...