Monday, 19 September 2011

When is working from home not working from home?

When you are on the beach.

A few months back I was lucky enough to have some time in the gorgeous city of Barcelona. The trip was a mixture of work, holiday and a writing session. All made possible by my amazing wife who sent me away to get on with it.

It turned out to be a key decision point in deciding to change my life as I spent far too much of it trying to get broadband access to be able to check web sites during my ‘time off’. However, as well as checking out the astounding Gaudi architecture ( the inside of La Sagrada Famillia brought me to tears it was so beautiful) and doing the usual tourist things I set out for the beach to catch some rays and to plan my next novel.

I was in Barcelona during the Festival of Sant Joan that basically involves the locals staying up all night throwing firecrackers at each other. I’ll never forget the sight of very young children walking round with a lit cigarette in one hand and a packet of bangers in the other. They lit a banger and held it for as long as possible before throwing it at their friends/siblings while their parents watched. They don’t seem to have bought into the concept of Health and Safety in Spain!

The day I hit the beach was a public holiday and the sand was packed with locals. I silently praised myself for ignoring the clusters of beautiful locals and headed for an area that was less distracting. I was going to nail my plot outline today while getting a suntan – true male multi-tasking.

I was scribbling madly when three women invaded the space on my left, followed by another four in front of me. Clothes were removed in seconds and skin bared to the sun’s warming rays. When I’m writing or typing I often look up into the middle distance and in this instance the middle distance was a lot closer than it should have been. It also happened to consist of a woman applying suntan cream to her breasts.

I looked away quickly and discovered that another female sunbather had arrived on my right and she was bending over at my eye level giving me a prime view of her toned bum. A swift head turn to the left only brought more trouble. This siren had just come out of the sea and was in the process of reaching up to pull her hair back into a ponytail, water sparkling as it trickled down her tanned body.

I shifted round to face the other way but I was now surrounded. The sunbather sitting just a few feet from me was really special. She was smirking at me. Her eyes twinkling as she took in my awkward responses to the stimulating scenes around me. There was something subtle about her expression that left me in no doubt that she was laughing at me and not with me. Also that any flirting or pervy looks sent her way would probably result in physical pain for me.

The heroine of my book came to life on that beach as the sunbathers around me dozed and I scribbled notes on page after page. That evening as I typed up my notes and schemed various plots I laughed at myself too. It’s certainly the first time that half-naked women have helped me concentrate on a task!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The first week of my new life

A few days ago I was working from home running a social network. I had a never-ending to-do list and I was battling spammers who appeared to be Chinese but were re-directing their nasty little efforts via the US.

Now I am the main carer for my two young children Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I’m looking to pick up some freelance work to fill in the gaps when I’m childfree.

The most important aspect for me though is the opportunity to publish a series of novels that I concocted while being awake in the night thanks to the two Things.
So what are nine things I have noticed since changing from being the UK manager for www.activagers.com to chief child amuser?

1) People give you very funny looks if you waltz down the street with the kids belting out Singing in the rain (it’s not as if it wasn’t raining – that would have been silly).

2) There are only so many times in one day that you can respond calmly to the simple question: “Dad?”

3) A day spent in charge of the two Things is longer than a day spent fighting with the Internet but can be more entertaining. A sun-downer beer also tastes nicer and is more rewarding.

4) The Things much prefer an ‘expedition’ out in the wilds of Scotland in a gale peppered with rain and twigs than playing inside with their latest toys. This is good news because so do I. Even if we did have to fight off wolves, bears and tigers – obviously being pirates gave us an extra advantage.

5) It’s much easier spending more time with the Things than less time if that time involves leaving a smoking laptop and walking down the stairs straight into the dinner to bedtime ‘witching hour’.

6) When you tell blokes about your change in life they say the right things but still give you a strange look. The mums at nursery etc are very nice but visibly wonder if I’m expecting them to talk to me all the time.

7) Calling Thing 2 (my two year old daughter) Monkey Nuts in public always seems to earn a frown.

8) The original Batman and Robin TV series was incredibly sexist and both Thing 1 and 2 LOVE it.

9) Frazzles crisps taste better than I remembered.

All in all quite an interesting first week, but can I have less rain next week please?