To work or not to work?
I did think I would be working over the Christmas period. I was expecting to be writing content for websites, but I have come to an agreement with my current content ‘buyer’ that I can finish the outstanding work next week and take a short break.
In my last blog, I was very down in the dumps and wondered how it was that at my time of life I was grinding out words for a meagre living? It was certainly not the way I had expected to spend my ‘senior’ years, but there again, I’m not exactly sure how I did expect to spend them.
That’s a bit of a lie because I know full well how I expected to spend them – I had hoped to be writing books which would make sufficient money to make ends meet.
So instead of writing fiction, which I very much enjoy, I am condemned to writing something that I don’t enjoy. It’s a double-whammy, as it were.
But on the plus side, after writing some 41 web pages this month, I am slowly getting used to it. The writing has become slightly less onerous, and as I gain experience, no doubt it will become easier. Hopefully, I will be able to speed up a little. My earnings this month have so far amounted to a whopping $650….
At the moment, I can write about 2-3 web pages a day, depending on the number of words required and the amount of research I have to do. In the process, I am becoming an expert in such diverse fields as steam cleaning carpets, removing asbestos from old buildings, and matched betting….
As the work has become a bit easier, my mood has lightened. After all, at least I have found some work I am capable of doing without having to leave my own home. It could be worse.
AZZY – The End of the Line?
The sales of AZZY have been a total disaster. I think AZZY is selling even less than my previous novels, and that’s saying something.
The only ripple of sales activity is for my short story – ‘The Bahrain Incident’, which can be downloaded free of charge!! I guess that tells me something about human nature. People will always go for a freebie, regardless of quality and /or quantity. They can’t even put their hands in their pockets and fork out $2.99 or £1.99 – for a book with 457 ‘print pages’ and which has so far has received nothing but 5-star reviews.
But I concede defeat. I still think it was a wonderful suggestion by my good friend Brian, to suggest that I write a series of books around each of my six wives, and I am very proud of the first one, AZZY.
It is by far and away the best book I have written, and even if nobody reads it, I do not regret spending a year of my life in its production. If I hadn’t written it, I would have always wondered: ‘what if?
I think that there that far too many odds are stacked against me. I am completely unknown and I am too old to build up a loyal readership. Added to which, I have failed to get any kind of decent publicity campaign off the ground.
This is despite my best efforts on my blog, twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and God only knows what other social media.
However, I do sincerely thank all the good folk out there who have ‘liked’ my Facebook posts, retweeted my tweets and done whatever they can to help in my promotion efforts, but sadly, it didn’t work.
As I have previously written, I placed my main hope and trust and some of my last remaining money into a PR outfit that has totally let me down. Their less than impressive efforts have only produced one lowly blog review, one blog posting of the book’s details, and a couple of promises to review the book “sometime next year.”
I should add that these relatively unknown blogs are geared towards modern romantic fiction – which is hardly the kind of readership I need to target for a book like AZZY.
So that seems to be that for my writing career. Unless I can find another alternative source of income, it looks as though I will have to spend the rest of my days writing web content for the foreseeable future.
Christmas Family Man
On the positive side, my health is more or less holding up, and I am truly blessed at my time of life to have a loving family around me to take my mind off things and to care for me. Christmas is a time for family, and although it is not really celebrated here in Buddhist Thailand, it does give me a boost to know I’m not alone.
My sixth attempt at marriage is an unqualified success. If I didn’t have these financial worries hanging over me I would be the happiest man alive – I really would.
Lek is a gem and I love her to bits. It’s not the kind of mad, obsessive, romantic love that I bestowed on all my previous wives and girlfriends. No, this is a deeper, less emotional love – based on close friendship and respect. I love her for who she is.
I love her for her generosity of spirit, her cheerful countenance and her unbounded optimism. I love her for never getting angry with me and never throwing tantrums like all my previous wives used to do. I love her for being faithful, never straying from the marital bed, sticking with me through thick and thin and never complaining. I love her for the way she takes care of her children and her family back in Nong Khai.
Most of all, I love her for how she takes care of me. Even after five years of being together, she still turns me on and I still find her very sexy.
Does she love me? How can she? – You may well ask. I frequently ask myself the same question. I don’t kid myself that she has mad passionate feelings for me; I know that simply is not the case; but I sometimes wonder exactly what her feelings towards me really are, given the age difference.
Those who know us well tell me that there is no doubt she is extremely fond of me. I will take their word on that. She is not a particularly demonstrative or emotional person; she is far too well grounded and sensible. She has had to overcome too many traumas in her life – ever since her ex-husband up and left her with a baby girl and 7-year old son and with no means of support.
We are a real family, ever since her daughter, Song, came to live with us nine months ago. So as well as a charming, hard-working wife, I also have two little urchins aged 7 and 14 to take care of.
Sure, Lek sometimes screams at them too much for some minor transgression, and sure, the kids have temper tantrums and believe it or not, they even sometimes misbehave…
More than once Neung has stolen money from me, (and has been suitably punished), and on one occasion I discovered he had refused to go to school. It was one of the few times that I intervened in the handling of Lek’s children. Without going into details, suffice to say he was on his way to school an hour later and apologised to me that evening for his bad behaviour.
Such are the ups and downs of family life. The kids are good hearted have a genuine love of life and are usually a joy to be around. They play with each other – laughing and screaming one moment, crying the next – and adore their mum to bits. I have no idea what they think of me, but hopefully, it is a bit more than just tolerating an old barbarian in their midst.
Song is as cute as a button and even at seven; she has adopted the Thai female habit if staring at herself in the mirror and asking me ten times a day if she looks pretty in her latest dress. She also asks me to judge who is prettier? – Lek or her as they pose for me. I always diplomatically declare a tie.
I have no doubt that she is going to be a real handful when she gets into her teenage years.
I have always been impressed with the way Neung usually cooks his own food. He has obviously been taught from an early age to be self-sufficient. Song usually eats with her mother, but a few weeks ago I heard a noise in the kitchen when I knew Lek was out. I went to see who was there. It was Song, standing on a stool, preparing her own food. Since then, I have seen her on numerous occasions, beavering away in the kitchen, making som tum or some other Thai delicacy.
Lek makes the kids keep their rooms tidy and they both have to help out around the house. Neung, in particular, washes the dishes, mops and cleans the floors, and empties the trash bins, amongst many other menial chores.
Me? I do very little, and sometimes I feel embarrassed that I don’t do more. But even if I try to make to a cup of coffee, Lek complains and says I should have asked her to do it for me.
Well, since we moved I have put my foot down. I now make my own coffee – and tea – and most of the time I get my own glass of water from the fridge…. sooo exhausting….
This Christmas morning I am writing my blog all alone as the children are at school. Song has a school sports day, which means Lek has gone along to watch the proceedings. She has sent me some pics which I am putting in this blog.
So I only have the dogs for company – but I don’t mind. I’m listening to Christmas music on BBC Radio 2 as I write my blog. When it’s done, I shall probably sit down earlier than usual and watch some of the TV programmes I have downloaded.
Mobi’s Christmas TV Fayre
This week I have been enjoying a Christmas TV feast of watching the Swedish-Danish co-production, The Bridge, series three, and also the brilliant French cop series Spiral, series five.
These two cop thrillers, so different in pace and cultural backgrounds, are the two finest drama productions going on TV – bar none.
Other Scandi productions such as The Killing, Wallander and Bergen and the French Returned are also excellent, but The Bridge and Spiral are at the top of that wonderful tree.
The acting is superb, and the finely drawn, fascinating characters and the original story lines are well written and are guaranteed to keep you guessing and gasping. The interplay between the characters and the overall dramatic effects are riveting. The cinematography and direction are as good – if not better – than you will find anywhere.
I usually give up on even the best US and British dramas after the first series. The quality always drops in subsequent series, (Broadchurch and The Fall are two recent examples) and they often have the infuriating habit of leaving unresolved cliffhangers running from series to series in a cynical ploy to retain their audience.
Yet I’m half way through both of these European productions, and considering that both programmes have been around for a number of years, the freshness and originality of the storylines never seems to fade. If anything, unlike their American counterparts, they seem to improve, series by series.
Compare the two aforementioned series with a new BBC One Cop series, entitled Cuffs and you can’t fail to wonder what is going on. I am struggling my way through this “Bill by the Seaside”, and while it is not that bad, it really is pretty unsophisticated and frankly amateurish compared to the European output. Maybe it was done on a much lower budget – but I doubt whether the French or the Scandis have overly large budgets.
Cuffs has corny storylines, the productions are very disjointed, the characters are not very believable, the acting is wooden. Most of them are not even likable. The CID Inspector is positively creepy. I mean it’s OK -ish and just about watchable – but why the Europeans manage to do it so much better is a mystery.
After all, the BBC has made some of the best TV dramas ever. I recently saw a 1972 BBC production of War and Peace – all 20-hour long episodes of it. Although it showed its age in places, it was nevertheless done extremely well and the acting was superb. It held my rapt attention throughout.
In the past month or so we’ve had BBC’s excellent River and also the finely acted London Spy – both of which I highly recommend. But even these are no match for The Bridges and Spirals of this world.
This superior TV making talent also extends to films. Some of the very best films I have seen in recent years have been French and I even saw a fine Scandi film recently.
I know that subtitles are an anathema for many people, but if you give them a try, I promise you that it will be long before you are hardly aware that you are reading them. Your brain adapts.
It’s not just me that admires these European TV productions. Several of the best ones have been adapted by the Americans and Brits. The yanks made an American version of The Killing – it wasn’t bad but not a patch on the original. Ditto the Brits with Wallander and The Bridge (renamed The Tunnel) – both quite watchable but far below the brilliance of the originals.
Ah well, that’s my Christmas TV watching planned out. When I have finished, Cuffs, The Bridge and Spiral, I will move onto Martin Beck, Fargo, the two-part Luther, starring the wonderful Idris Elba. Chanel Five’s excellent Suspects and I’ll give The Last Kingdom a go, although I’m not hopeful I will get very far with it.
I’ll report back later.
In the meantime, may I wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016, to all my loyal readers.
May you have a wonderful and productive year and let’s hope that some of the horrors we have been experiencing in this deeply fractured 21st-century world of ours are brought to a conclusion, or, at the very least, reduced in scale.
Here are some more pics of my family in Thailand, together with my one an only grandson in England and his parents. He is 1-year old already… doesn’t time fly?