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Fife 24: 3 – 9 May

If there’s anything that proves to me the quantum theory of alternative realities governed by the choices we make, it’s job interviews. Even if you don’t expect to get the job, you still find yourself imagining what it would be like, what you would do, how you would live, as if you’re seeing another you in the future. For a few days you’re living two lives, one for each of the trouser legs of time stretching out in front of you. Then, when you fail to get the job, the waveform collapses, and you’re back in a single reality again.

This happened to me last week. I went all the way down to Oxford (6-7 hours by train) for an unsuccessful interview for a job based in Glasgow (don’t ask). The interview itself went well, even if it was a bit superficial – in fact, truth to tell, I’ve had far more rigorous examinations at the immigrations desk at Boston airport. But I answered all the questions, gave a good presentation, and didn’t trip over the doorway and end up in the interviewer’s lap, like I did so memorably all those years ago at one county record office. So I have no regrets. (No job, either, of course, but you can’t have everything.)

The day was memorable in another way, too. The wind was blowing hard into my face as I walked up to the Bodleian Library for my ordeal, and suddenly something hit my glasses, and my left eye blurred. When I took my glasses off, I found the lens smeared with bits of some green insect – I’d received my first bug splat as a pedestrian!

All this and the unshakeable cold meant that I didn’t get a whole lot of knitting done last week. Still, as you’ll see from the pictures, I’ve finished the other sleeve pattern and started the cuff. Just under six inches to go! I was absurdly pleased to find that I had exactly the same number of stitches at the start of the cuff as the other sleeve (118 decreased down to 108); of course, this is just as it should be, but it’s nice when things work out. And when I divine the tea leaves (tricky with tea bags but not impossible) I see a tall, dark pair of scissors looming in my future.

It’s been something of a week of rejections. I sent off my novel to a handful of agents to test the water a month ago. I’ve now received my first couple of rejection notices, as they slowly work through their “slush pile” (which they charmingly call the hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts awaiting their attention). Both were form letters, but one had a nice handwritten note at the bottom: “I need something a bit more scary, though nicely done”. Which is some consolation at least.

This week’s bread is a variation on Scottish morning rolls, softened with olive oil rather than milk, and with a couple of teaspoons of sugar added to take the edge off. Take them out the freezer first thing, pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then split them steaming hot and slather with anything that comes to hand. Then go back to bed and sleep till noon.

Margaret celebrated her birthday at the weekend. What do you give the woman who has everything? Reader, I gave her my cold.






10 comments to Fife 24: 3 – 9 May

  • Leigh

    Wow, a hand-written comment. In the mechanics of getting a book published, I understand that is momentous, and for once, I am not being facetious. Trudge on oh mighty scribler. I also understand through a couple of book conferences here in the States that many publishers will not even consider an author who does not have at least 3 books completed and ready to go. Have you ever thought (and of course you have)to attend some conferences to network with other authors? I know Comic Con is probably one of the biggest SciFi/Fantasy/Comic book convention in the U.S. Bouchercon is another really big Mystery convention.

    Just a thought.

    Happy Birthday Margaret!!

  • Gordon

    Hi Leigh,

    Thanks – no one ever said getting a book published was easy, just ask JK Rowling! The best thing I can do is keep writing and get better and hope one day it clicks.

    The authors I’ve encountered have all been very approachable and generous. But in the end all they are really able to do is wish me luck, which is nice but…

    Conventions are interesting, and I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for the suggestion,

  • Ruth

    Sorry you didn’t get the job, Gordon, but an organisation which interviews in Oxford for a position in Glasgow probably isn’t that great to work for anyway! Being self-employed now I am rather glad job interviews are behind me, both as interviewee and interviewer!
    And keep on with the writing, I’m sure you’ll get there.
    Cardi is going well, I see. You’re nearly up to the scary cutting part…

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruth,

    And thanks. Yes, interviews suck, and I’ve done enough from both sides of the table to dislike them from every angle! But some sort of income would be nice, and the writing is not something I can count on, barring a miracle.

    We’ve had a friend staying this week, so I haven’t had much time for knitting (setting the world to rights takes time, you know). But I may knuckle down and finish the knitting part this weekend. Or else try to get some sleep, after a week of insomnia. One or the other.


  • Well the gansey looks lovely, as usual. I hope Margaret feels better after your ever-so-thoughtful birthday gift. Did you give her anything else? It’s hard to wrap a virus festively.


  • Gordon

    Hi SongBird,

    I’m tempted to say that I also gave her a piece of my mind, but that might be a joke too far!

    So let’s just say that greater love hath no man than that he takes his wife shopping for shoes on her birthday…


  • *snort*

    Well, yes, shoe shopping can be a true test of a persons’ love for their Shoe Shopper loved one. In my case, though, it’s usually craft or yarn stores that my Geordie is patient through. Or he just stays outside with a book on his phone and reads until I’m ready. He’s very good.

    I hope she got something really spiffy!


  • Gordon

    Alas, we went to this really nice shoe shop on Rose Street in Edinburgh, one where they bring out other shoes you might like from the store out back, not on display, but the only shoes that were just right weren’t in stock in her size. They were going to ask round and get back to us, but in typically British rubbish customer service style they never did.

    I find I can take shopping for about an hour, then I need a coffee and something with sugar or else things get ugly. My superpower seems to be a sort of anti-Hulk – when he got angry he became a giant green monster; I become a rather petulant 12 year-old. (I tried selling the idea to Marvel comics but they didn’t take me up on it, can’t think why…)


  • Leigh

    You would think with female DNA, I would literally lust after shopping. Uhn… NO! The stop watch starts upon opening the store/mall door and the ultimate goal is to get out in time increments measured in nanoseconds.

    I wonder if it is a generational thing, you know, before flat screen TVs/computers. One of the few pleasures woman experience was windowshopping. My grandmothers absolutely loved to walk through stores and “windowshop.” (Uhh… Why?!) Since one did not have any money back then (or I should say country folk didnt have any money) sans credit cards, all one could do was wander through stores or walk past windows and fantasize. I guess today we “windowshop” the computer instead. Those with real money would have their ladies maid or valet do the real shopping.

  • Gordon

    Hi Leigh,

    The only kind of shopping I enjoy is knowing I have enough money in the bank and going to buy hi-fi equipment. Granted, it’s been a few years since that’s been the case. But once you establish that you have no idea how it works inside the boxes, and couldn’t care less, you get to sit in a comfy sofa and listen to your favourite cds being played on various combinations of stuff. If you’re lucky, you get a cup of coffee too. In fact, all shopping should be like this: sitting down, listening to music, with free coffee. Then it might just about be bearable!

    Internet shopping is great, the only downside is you have to make your own coffee – so it only scores 2 out of 3 on my chart.