Over losing the best friendship in the world. The most steadfast person in my life. The one who truly believed in me.
My mum has gone, and I miss her so much.
I want to tell her so much. I want to ask her so much. I want to hug her again, I want to see her smile, and get excited about something so her eyes light up. I want to answer all the calls I missed. Those I couldn’t answer because I wasn’t able, or embarrassed that I wasn’t the success she deserved. I want to come home last Christmas, and visit more often.
She was so unlucky, but she still had hope. Hope that everything would be okay in the end – that my hips would somehow get better, that I would become a famous writer, that I would finally meet someone to settle down with.
Every time I find something she had excitedly planned, like flights booked to a relative’s naming ceremony, my heart breaks a little more.
It breaks when I see her dogs playing in the garden, or scampering around the house, she took such joy from them. And they miss her so much. They don’t understand where she is. They don’t understand why I want to hug them, or when I’m doubled over, sobbing with grief.
It breaks when I see her clothes, her make-up, her awkward smile in photographs – she never liked having her picture taken.
It breaks even more when I think of the pain that she was in. The confusion of her last minutes. Of being told to ‘calm down!’ by the selfsame doctors and nurses who had previously ignored her, ignored the warning signs, who relied on monitors instead of going to see her losing her last breaths.
Despite her spending a week being so patient with their abrupt manners, speaking so kindly of them. Trying her best not to be a bother.
She didn’t need more medications – they only made her feel more sick. She needed them to realise how ill she was, instead of her being at the bottom of the list to be transferred to another hospital for treatment. They needed to talk to her about her concerns, instead of just telling her off.
I know that they have a hard job, but I can’t forgive them for saying to my sisters it was ‘all in her head’. Half an hour later, she was gone.
My mother wouldn’t have harmed another soul. She had the softest, gentlest heart, which unfortunately wasn’t strong enough. We’ll never know now which part(s) finally let her down – it didn’t seem right to have a post-mortem after all she’d been through. She would have hated the thought too.
All the flowers in the world won’t bring her back. All the cards either. I know people mean well, but I find it difficult to even look at them. Especially the religious ones.
I have to confess, this year’s tournament has caught me unawares. Although I’ve been popping along to London Welsh home games, most weekends, I’ve also been involved in another sport where getting wet and muddy is a bonus – cyclocross.
One of the cleaner days. Honest. (And you can’t even see their backs.)
(If you miss those days where you couldn’t tell one mud-covered lump from another, and like to see people falling on their arses and faces, this could be another spectator sport for you.
Very entertaining stuff.)
Back to the rugby. So, to discover last week that Wales are favourites for the Six Nations according to most of the commentators here was quite a shock, to say the least.
What could possibly go wrong? Oh yes, Biggar goes limping off and Wales draw against Ireland. Great start.
Anyway, I was perusing other exciting links when I came across this lovely bit of ‘build up’.
Far be it for me to disagree with that ‘advice’ (*shudders*), but if you’re the kind of person who paints their nails in team colours but has no idea what the laws of rugby are, please read no further. We’ll never get on, so I won’t even bother.
Of course, I tripped off to Old Deer Park on Saturday for the opening matches. And proceeded to down a few too many ‘Bows.
It was quite the operation to discover why my hat was there – apparently it pissed down with rain at some time on Saturday night, and Drunk Toria somehow managed to put it there to dry. Drunk Toria is epic. Hungover Toria searched the whole house looking for that hat though. Perhaps Drunk Toria should’ve left her a note?
I was grateful for dark glasses the next day. And I discovered that sports nutrition recovery drinks are also quite a good tool in your hangover arsenal.
But I think some people may need a reminder. (After last Sunday’s hangover, I include myself in that observation.)
The laws of rugby.
Oh, FFS. If you don’t know them by now, you really can’t be arsed, can you?
Look, the original piece had some more information & useful tips, but I’ll repeat the most cogent words: DO NOT TRY TO BLAG ANYTHING ABOUT THE SCRUM. No matter how tempting it is (‘he’s dropped his bind, hasn’t he?’ ‘that was no way straight’). You’ll be like one of those really annoying commentators who insist on filling every millisecond with their voice, instead of letting the pictures speak for themselves.
HOWEVER, my earlier words still apply:
Brekkie on the benches at ODP.
Have a proper breakfast. Don’t rely on a ‘pre-match meal’ – you may already be the best part of bladdered before then. Try to snack all day – this is not a time to be worrying about your diet. Don’t be the person puking up in the bogs at half time, or the one disposing inelegantly of a curry/kebab behind a bush.
This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. No, there’s not as many matches and ad breaks at the RWC, but it can be more intense. Remember what I said about drinking more when nervous?
LOO BREAKS – If you need to go to the loo at a match, wait until a break in play before you force people to get out of your way. If you know your bladder is weak, stick to shorts until after the rugby finishes. Or chew gum instead of drinking.
REFILLS – If you run out of drink during a match, wait until a break in play. Or just fucking deal with having nothing to drink. Don’t ruin someone else’s experience just because you’re prioritising alcohol intake over watching rugby. That’s just fucking selfish.
DO NOT INVOLVE YOURSELF IN DRINKING GAMES IF YOU’RE ALREADY HALF-CUT. It’ll only end in tears/puking/embarrassment/passing out. Finding other people to talk with or a well-timed disappearance may be your best option to salvage whatever’s left of your dignity. This includes Dai Lama’s drinking game:
There’s no way in hell you’ll still be standing after that. And you probably won’t care. Until the pics made it to social media…
Whether you’re at a match, at a rugby club (now is a great time to pop to see their matches also – with the rescheduling that’s often forced on them, they need your support) or being boring and watching it at home, you should try to still try to keep standards up.
STAND FOR THE ANTHEMS. Sing along too, even if you’re a neutral and it’s not your own. Even if you’re at home and the only one there. The French National anthem is great for its bloodthirstiness. The Italian, well…
Clare grinned happily. ‘Woo-hoo! I’m off to Italia.’ She started humming and was soon gesticulating wildly with her other friends.
‘What on earth are they doing?’ a bemused Tom asked Sarah.
‘On past experience, I’m guessing that’s the Italian National Anthem they’re singing. Or trying to sing. It’s a bonkers anthem – half opera, really.’
‘Of course, that explains it, I thought it was familiar.’ He hummed along good-naturedly too.
It built to a crescendo, then all the performers paused, not knowing the next bit. Their small group broke into laughter, and some around them applauded.
Flower of Scotland can be a joy or a dirge, depending on the proclivities of the band, while Ireland has far better ditties than their Call. Anyone not English and those of a republican leaning all hate GSTQ, but at least it’s short, hey?
I reckon the best of the home nations is Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Father’s), and that’s not because I’m Welsh. Honest.
Fortunately, they didn’t have this in my size.
NEVER BOO. Don’t slow-clap either. It’s not a fucking pantomime.
TRIES – Don’t over-celebrate unless the try has definitely, irreversibly been awarded.
PENALTIES/CONVERSIONS – Again, please don’t boo. The English/Irish thing is to hush. While I’m not a fan of silence, pissing everyone off around you means you don’t get to share their hip flasks.
CLAP GOOD PLAY – by either side. Yes, it may rankle to do so, but this is a major part of being a rugby supporter.
POW! Yeah, massive hits are great to see. Well, FAIR and SAFE massive hits are. However, if it’s a Lawes-like late tackle on a defenceless, smaller player? Similarly, tip or tackles or shoulder barges. Remember, the player tackled should be able to get up afterwards, not be carted off on a stretcher.
INJURIES – If a player is injured, be patient. If a rugby player stays down, it usually means the outlook is bad. No player would voluntarily be stretchered off, and if they limp or are carried off, a sympathetic clap is the norm.
DO NOT SING OR DANCE TO THE SHIT MUSIC CLIPS PLAYED AT BREAKS IN PLAY. Every proper fan hates it. If you want to hear a five-second clip of badly piped music, go to a bloody pop concert, not a rugby match. (When will the bloody stadiums learn this? Grrr.)
AVOID BEING A POOR WINNER OR A SORE LOSER. Remember, if your team wins, try not to rub it in the face of anyone supporting the opposition. Be dignified – what goes around, eventually comes around. THIS IS ESPECIALLY APPLICABLE DURING THE SIX NATIONS – the Six Nations is annual, not quadrennial.
ABOVE ALL, NO FUCKING MEXICAN WAVES. Nothing could be more disrespectful to the players on the pitch and proper supporters than that shit.
Have fun and enjoy yourself, even if the result doesn’t go your way. Absorb the atmosphere, get chatting to other supporters from either side, and join a singalong. AND KEEP THOSE BLOODY ARMS DOWN.
I’m off to the bookies now to place a bet on when Hartley’s going to get sent off.
Time for a rant about my personal anathema as a reader, my bête noire: when you buy a novel, and get to the end to discover…it’s a bloody cliffhanger!
Or, even worse (and as seems to increasingly be the case), an incomplete novel.
I’ve noticed this in a lot of novels, especially self-published, free, first novels. After all, you need a hook to get people to fork out for the next five, don’cha?
Pah! You’re not fooling me with that technique!
For a start, WARN THE READER. If it’s incomplete or a series, I’ll avoid it or won’t knock stars off my review.
If it’s going to be a cliffhanger, resolving at least one of the major plot conflicts of an arc would help, preferably the majority of them. Start threading in parts of the next story and hooks.
Or ensure the HEA is complete for your main characters, and start introducing the characters who’ll be the focus for the next novel.
Then there’s the incomplete novel. I’ve read a few recently which just stopped. No resolution of anything, just ‘END OF BOOK ONE’.
What the actual f*ck?
I don’t care that ‘THEIR STORY IS CONTINUED IN [blah-de-blah]’, I care that you’ve just shat on the reader, big style.
It’s even worse when ‘BOOK ONE’ wouldn’t even qualify as a novel, I read a ‘Complete Series : Box Set’ the other day, consisting of three ‘books’ totalling just over 60 pages. That’s barely a novella.
So, I beg of anyone who may be reading this, please think carefully about how you end your novel, and how you describe it in the blurb. I’m aware that it’s thought of as a promotional tool to tempt a reader into buying more, but you’ll piss off more people than you’ll please, and others may be harsher than I am.
This is a true story. There is no exaggeration, this is exactly what happened.
I have no warning before it happens.
It’s true that I haven’t been sleeping well, and the nap on the sofa was probably a mistake. I didn’t think this would happen, this stomach-churning journey of horror.
First I wake. The middle of the night, still pitch-black outside. I’m lying on my back, the way I normally sleep.
I feel It in the room, a certain heaviness. It’s come to visit. I hear the bed creak as It sits down beside me.
It’s heavy, the bed is noticeably lower. I keep my eyes shut. If I believed in deities, now would be the time to start praying.
The pressure begins, hands making Their way up my body. To my breasts, I feel Them cup and press down on my breasts. I hear It’s heavy breath.
I begin to struggle, to free myself from the paralysis. I force my heavy eyelids open. There are shadows all around my room, unnaturally bright due to the full moon.
Where is It?
I move my body, turn slightly to the side. My breath is loud in my ears. My heart beats like a drum.
Where is It?
The shadow there, that’s a hanger on on the front of the wardrobe. The one opposite the bed, is that It? No, that’s the clothes stand. Is It crouched behind the bed? Looking in the window at me? The dark patch by the door, is that It?
My eyelids are heavy, I close them, and feel It return. Pressing me down, feeling my body. This unwelcome Visitor. This Creep. This Assailant.
Eyes open again. I force my legs to move, force my shoulders to shift. I’m so tired, so utterly tired. I want to relax into the welcoming embrace of sleep, but every time I do, It’s waiting there for me. Lurking. Haunting. I can’t see It, but I can still feel It there, just waiting for me to close my eyes again.
I shift further. I move my arms and legs, change the side I’m balanced on. I feel It stand up off the bed, hear the bed creak again, and Its malevolent presence seems to have gone.
I don’t trust It. I fumble to turn on the bedside light. My eyes hurt from the harshness.
My room is empty. There is no one in here but me. The door and windows are all closed. I hear creaks outside the door. Perhaps It’s waiting for me?
I pull out my laptop, force my exhausted brain to start reading something innocuous.
Force myself to calm down.
Force myself to stay awake until the sky begins to lighten.
The next night, I’m scared to go to bed, and to turn the light off. I turn the light back on. Someone has suggested I sprinkle rice or salt around my bed, to give It something to count, instead of bothering me. In the bright light of day, the idea seemed ridiculous. Now, it seems like a harmless thing to allay my worst fears.
I sprinkle a light amount of fine salt around my bed.
It doesn’t work.
This time It wakes me up lying down beside me, on the opposite side to the previous night. It’s in a more playful mood this night – it tugs my hair a couple of times. I think I hear a chuckle, and the bed creaks as It moves away.
The next night, I have a few drinks to help me sleep. The night after, some tablets. I couldn’t take another night of this.
Sleep paralysis. The Old Hag.
I have been assaulted by my own brain. Tricked, terrified and left feeling sick and exhausted.
I’ve had episodes since I was young, though it was only in the last fifteen years that they became as terrifying as this. They’re sporadic, and have happened in many different places. I’ve read that you’re supposed to ‘relax’ into them, and the feeling is supposed to go away. This doesn’t work. I’ve read that once you’ve woken up and moved, it won’t return. It does. I’ve read that drugs and/or alcohol are supposed to make them worse. They don’t.
The only common pattern I can find is sleep disruption, when I’ve either napped earlier in the evening or gone to bed earlier than usual.
I’ve told other people about them – sometimes I have to as the next day, I can be completely on edge and unsettled. Some insist that it must be something paranormal – a ghost, a malevolent spirit or demons. That’s what it feels like.
However, I’m a scientist. A pragmatist. No matter what tricks my brain is playing, I know that it’s just that, just tricks.
On a writing forum I frequent, there was a discussion about geographical accuracy, and if readers picked up on errors.
I went to great lengths to get the geography correct along with the timing of the trip. A complete section had to be rewritten to accommodate a short drive that was originally an overnight drive.
I could see the comments about traveling 100 miles in eight hours. We had them stop to rest and refresh instead.
It reminded me of this, from my youth:
About 25 years ago, as a piece of GCSE school coursework, I wrote a story based on a similarly long drive.
I wanted it to be overnight, and long enough for the characters to learn something about themselves. Unfortunately, this discounted the UK as it wasn’t big enough, city-to-city, for the story length.
Having watching too many episodes of California-based soaps, and also having consulted an atlas, I decided to base it in America. And was highly criticised for it not being realistic enough with US slang, etc. I really didn’t know enough about the locations, what junctions were called, how to write American dialogue.
I think I received my worst English mark ever for that story.
It was a painful lesson to learn, as I was the year swot at the time and everyone took the piss out of me getting a C+/C. I had always, always, received As in English until that point; English had always been my favourite topic when I was younger, I’d often placed in school competitions and won a prize in a county-wide contest. My enthusiasm for writing and reading seemed to die from that point. I still read voraciously, but seldom classic works. I fell behind in my coursework. I didn’t really enjoy the subject any more. Coupled with post-mortems of many classic works for English Lit, which I rarely could agree with but had to parrot the conclusions of, English became a subject I could barely tolerate.
The US-driving story was the last time, until I started writing again five years ago, that I had produced something fictional that I enjoyed, or could even recall. I’ve no idea what I wrote for the rest of my coursework, I have feeling it wasn’t up to much, and I finally gained a B at GCSE English, with a C in English Lit.
With the failure of that story, I look back and realise it was also the teacher himself who took a lot of the joy of writing out of English for me. Mr F was the ‘trendy’ sort – relatively young, easygoing with a snazzy ‘tache and dress sense. He was popular with everyone.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really ‘get’ him; I always got on better with the more traditional type of teacher. A combination of Mr F and the course also managed to kill my enjoyment of Thomas Hardy novels (amongst others) and any poetry. One time, after I had heard part of Robert Frost’s poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ and I wanted to know who wrote it. I quoted him the final lines:
‘I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.’
He didn’t know (HOW? He was an English teacher, FFS!) and was so utterly disparaging, he totally put me off.
I hate regret or blaming others for my misfortunes, but I wonder now how different my life would have been had I been assigned the more-traditional Mr C. Had I scored better in English, I probably would have studied different A-levels, done a totally different degree at uni, maybe begun writing even earlier…
Wow. Please excuse the trip down memory lane.
And I’ve realised that there was something else I wrote that I enjoyed:
About 3-4 years later, and following the death of my grandma, I had an A-level General Studies exam. It was essentially all multiple choice, apart from the English section, which was a short story based on a true event. I wrote about the funeral, about the grandma I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and didn’t particularly like, about how I hadn’t cried until I saw my granddad stood at the front of the church, shaking and alone. It remains to this day, the most enjoyable and cathartic exam I’ve ever had. I always wanted a copy of the story, but was unable to obtain one, though I still remember the last line, ‘Finally, I cried.’
These past few weeks, I’ve been doing a fair bit of writing/editing/promotion. So much that I’ve hardly been out on my bike (oh, the shame!) My main focus has been split between the third in the Harford Scarlet series, Playing Away/With Fire (I know, I know; I call it ‘Playing Away’, the Publisher knows it as ‘Playing With Fire’ and we’ll have to sort it out soon) and a continuation of my BDSM story, Playing Power Games (Mum – if you’re reading this DO NOT click on that link. Please). I also did some rewriting of Playing Up, making it a prologue for the Harford Scarlet series, and added it to Amazon and Smashwords (Mum – please don’t click on those either, I’ll do a PG13 version for you).
I’ve noticed one thing: worryingly, the heat level in each piece of work is at a different level.
Adding in the second novel, Playing Around (coming in December 2014), and I generally cover each one of the categories in the title of this post, except ‘porn’ (too much character development apparently). I’d say most of my work varies between romance and erotica, but there is a lot of ground to cover there.
Why does this matter? I’d like to think you’ll know what you’re getting when you pick up a ‘Toria Lyons’ piece of work. The pedant in me would prefer consistency. The daughter in me would like to be writing something her mother could read. *blushes* The pragmatist in me is screaming that for the sake of my overdraft, I should be writing whatever will earn me a few pennies. And the writer in me just wants to write what she is inspired to write, at that moment in time.
Why has this happened? Because when I write, it depends what mood I’m in. Sometimes I like to do the emotional stuff, sometimes I like to move the plot on, and sometimes I love to write a naughty sex scene. Games was actually a deliberate challenge to write something waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone (it was a Literotica Valentine’s Day contest entry and I’m still chuffed to say it came third on the US-dominated site), and continuing the tale has included a lot of research that I never thought I would be doing. BDSM protocols can be rather complex, toys very varied and personal reactions vary.
What has this got to do with the lovely post by L.E. May? Well, I’m always surprised to open Playing For Keeps and see the under the title, ‘An erotic novel’!
I suppose it’s the bluntness, it rather slaps you in the face. THIS IS EROTIC, THIS IS! Has anyone said they wouldn’t read it due to the implication that it’s a bit saucy? Not that I know of, although to be honest, I haven’t given them the chance!
I’m hoping I’ll be judged solely what’s inside the cover pages. *fingers firmly crossed*
(As a sidenote, I’m finding it weird to sign books on request. I’ve always believed that defacing a book was wrong, so writing in one is still really peculiar to me. Plus I never know what to write, and I’m terrified of making a mistake and spoiling the whole book! I’m getting better at it though, and buying me a drink first certainly helps.)
Why I won’t be waving the white flag and giving up my skimpy knickers.
This is what you need.
I recently read a blog post by Tabitha Rayne about giving up skimpy and returning to the big knicker. Tabitha does say she finds the VPL sexy, but the gist of the comments below was that the ‘Bridget Jones’ was more comfy. I’ve had friends saying similar for a while, that they don’t wear skimpy underwear because it’s not comfortable.
Pants to that!
I contend that the problem is with design of the knicker in question. Or simply, a basic string versus a thick elastic thong.
Look at the lovely item above! There’s nothing to it, and it’s as comfy as comfy gets. (Admittedly, it’s white which is the most impractical colour for underwear ever. I learnt the perils of white underwear when young; my mother used to always boil-wash anything white into an attractive dingy grey. The reason it’s still brilliant white is because I buy multipacks and only wear the black or nude ones, so the white are left over.)
The trouble with a lot of thongs is that they’re only designed to be worn for a short time. If the bit between your legs is wider than the gap between your arse cheeks, of course it’s going to be uncomfortable. If the elastic is thick and unwieldy, it’s going to be uncomfortable. Plus if it’s not cotton or another natural fibre, and washed well, you run the risk of a visit from the tweety bird.
Here’s the case in point. (There’s not much which gets me taking photos of knickers on a line, but here we go.)
Observe from left to right the comfiness factor decreasing rapidly. I think I wore the one on the left once (and never again), the one in the middle is for special (short) occasions, and the black lacy one (the rear piece is one of the thin vertical black pieces) I’m happy in for whole days out.
These are both optimum widths, however, the elastic of the black pair is stiffer, therefore less forgiving .
I’ve been wearing cotton strings for sixteen years now, and my only problem has been sourcing the ones I like – unfortunately they’re not easy to find. I even wear them comfortably when cycling, which is the one activity where I’m always lectured that I should be knickerless.
So you see, there is no need to accept the ugly VPL (IMO) of big knickers (and possibly upset your other halves), there are other options open to you.
P.S. if anyone wants to try a nice string, I can send you a nice white one. *winky thing*