I started writing this blog ten years ago when I arrived in Lyon for a teaching job I didn’t want. Here’s the beginning.
“I live in Guillotiere. A heady mix of Arabs, Africans, Vietnamese, Chinese and me, crammed into a couple of blocks south of the Rhône. At the moment I’m standing in my tiny third-floor apartment looking at some Senegalese kids watching a football match on TV through the window of a bar.“
I stayed in Lyon for two enjoyable years before moving on. I now live and work on a farm in Normandy herding cows, bailing hay, mowing lawns and eating apples – yes, that’s me below.
I came here to help out a friend for a few months. Two and a half years later I’m still here (BBC – Brexit, Boris, Covid has seen to that). But if nothing else it’s given me time to work on my BIG novel which has so far ‘cost’ me six years of my life.
It’s not BIG in length – it’s actually quite short. It’s just BIG in my head. Like a nuclear bomb detonating every time I look at the manuscript.
It started as a blog post (like this) but somehow enlarged itself into a full-blown novel. Like a minor sore turns into a terrifying disease. It starts quite benignly:
“I’m in the shower scrubbing away at a hangover with some expensive shower gel called EXIT.“
At the time I was working at a residential craft centre near Cahors when I had an idea for a range of organic shower gels called START, GO, EXIT. I was trying a prototype out on a hangover but the smell made me feel so sick that I didn’t take it any further, and instead the idea wormed its way into a novel. This happens a lot, which is why my life exists more on paper than in reality. Call me a dreamer.
The title for this BIG novel is called DEATH ON A FACTORY FLOOR. It’s a murder mystery set in London, Derbyshire and France. There are no murders in it, just accidents. It’s more of an Accident-Mystery – a new genre, perhaps?
My only other novel, Le Glitch (2019), is a romantic-sci-fi-farce, according to some book categorisation algorithm I found. You input a few keywords and it gives you a genre match. I tried it out on my half-written novel about a hapless, idiotic TEFL teacher and the algorithm gave me: EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY. Which might explain a lot.
I doubt I’ll be writing this blog in another ten years as I’m probably the only person in the world who reads it now. I think most of my stats are generated by bots. Do people even read blogs anymore?
I used to be on Facebook and Twitter and advertised each and every post. When I deleted my accounts, I assumed fewer people would view them. In fact they stayed the same.
My post about the French writer Guy De Maupassant does well in India, and my quick (and woefully inaccurate) guide to Paris does well in China. My How to Build A Shepherd’s Hut and How to Tap a Walnut Tree for Syrup are my two bestsellers – in Canada.
So if anyone is remotely interested in reading any of my old posts from Lyon and beyond, you can access the entire archive (fuck!) by using the ladder icon at the top of the page. I don’t know why you would want to – maybe you’re in jail or something and have nothing to do. But you might.
You can buy and read Le Glitch – my satirical romp (or romantic sci-fi farce) here as eBook, Paperback, or Audiobook.