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Na? No

I expect you’re all wondering what happened with my NaNoWriMo attempt this year. Sadly, after last year’s success, this year I failed.

As you’ll have seen if you clicked through to look at my stats, I averaged 595 words per day, for a total of 17,800. It’s not nothing, and it’s still a decent start on the new novel, but it’s nothing like last year.

Why did I fail? A better question is, why was I successful last year? This year’s result is comparable to other years when I’ve tried it. Last year’s success looks like the aberration.

The big difference between last year and any other was my commute. I’ve tended always to have a commute of about an hour — except when I worked at the bank in the City, when it was shorter. Last year I was working in Croydon, which took me an hour and a half or more to get to. The one good point was that, picking up the Overground from Dalston Junction, I nearly always got a seat within a few stops. And on the way back had one from the start (coming from West Croydon, which is the start of the line).

So I was able to get forty or fifty minutes of concentrated writing time in each direction. Add to that the fact that the office I was in was really horrible, so I didn’t want to spend my lunch hours in it. I mostly went out and wrote in cafes or at Boxpark Croydon. The one thing I miss about that job is the the places to eat, especially a little pizza place in Boxpark.

Whereas now, working at Imperial, I’m back to a one-hour commute, with much less guarantee of a seat. And I really like both job and office, so I’m quite happy to go back there after I’ve got my lunch.

One other point is that last year I had worked out how I was going to end the novel I had been working on for years, so I was running downhill towards that end. This year, starting a brand-new one — even though I’ve got a plan, it feels much more uphill.

Still, we press on, writers against procrastination, borne forward ceaselessly into the future.

Rude and Rough

I watched Rude Boy for the first time in many years. It is, in case you don’t know, a film from 1980 about and featuring The Clash. It’s kind of a fictionalised documentary, in that the titular character, Ray Gange, is both someone who was a sometime roadie for/hanger-on of The Clash, and playing the part of “Ray Gange.”1

The worst part of it is, as I recalled, his “acting.” Well, that’s not quite true. Viewing it as a film, that’s the case. But viewing it as a document of the end of the seventies, the worst part of it is the casual racism. And indeed the organised racism of the National Front rally shown at the start.

Also bad are the violence from police and bouncers, and the general horribleness of Britain in the seventies. Nothing looks clean, everything looks run-down or broken. It looks, in fact, far worse than I remember it being.

Don’t worry, by the way, if you don’t remember what it was like, are too young to have experienced it, and/or don’t want to watch the film. It’ll be like that again in a couple of years if things go as we fear.

The best parts are, of course, the scenes of The Clash live and in the studio. And we won’t get them back after Brexit.

Also, in looking up the IMDB article, I discover that a) Ray Gange has actually been in a couple of other movies, and b) far more importantly, there is a 2016 movie called London Town, which is a drama about those times. With people acting as The Clash. Whaaaat? Why did no-one tell me about this?

  1. Or not quite. That’s how I remembered it, but Wikipedia suggests the story is slightly different. 

I just read the phrase “staying under the rule of Brussels” in a foolish article. Instead it should read, “Continuing to contribute to the rule of Europe,” if you want it in terms of ruling. “Continuing to share in Europe’s future development,” to be more about cooperation.

Our Prime Minister is either lying or deranged. From The Guardian’s live updates:

Labour’s Phil Wilson asks May if she can say, “hand on heart”, that this deal is better than what the UK has now.

May says she firmly believes the UK’s best days are ahead.

Or avoiding the issue: “best days ahead” could be looking ten, twenty years ahead. You know, when we rejoin the EU.