The Meerkat Muse – 1st May 2024

Welcome back to The Meerkat Muse! Let’s dive right in…

Suspicious Minds

You may be wondering where I am going with this. Well, this relates to possible efforts to get into some of my accounts. Specifically, I had an email alerting me to someone who tried, and failed, to access my mobile phone account. Going back further, I’ve had sporadic emails alerting me to attempts to log into my account, though I don’t have any financial information held with them, so if someone is looking to book me a holiday on my behalf, I’m tempted to say ‘go ahead’.

I’ve also had a surge in spam calls, and a lot of them were from the Manchester region. Half the time the line itself is quite poor, making it hard to work out what company they are allegedly calling from, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s deliberate. I have taken to blocking a lot of these numbers, but the spammers are relentless, and they will use a different number to call from the next time around. Could these two matters be related? I am uncertain, though it’s possible. Scammers have all sorts of means to gain personal information, and they are determined to get it. They are pretty contemptable in my book, given how they are happy to ruin other peoples’ lives, for the sake of financial gain.

Let’s walk away from this somewhat unhappy subject, and towards something much, much happier…

Success with Sequels!

The sequel to The Awakening is now officially in the hands of my publisher! In March and April I made myself knuckle down, and really go to work on this story. I wanted to get it to Jumpmaster Press by the end of April, and I am glad to say I succeeded. This does not mean the book is going to be published any time soon – there will no doubt be plenty of edits to make – but it is the first milestone towards the sequel’s publication, and I am quite proud to have taken that major step.

Now, you may be wondering as to the sequel’s title. From a very early stage in the book’s development, I knew the sort of story I wanted to tell, and I knew what title felt right to me. When I know more about the release date of The Schism, I will let you know.

Needy People

Since first publishing The Awakening as a self-published venture, I have become steadily acquainted with marketing ventures, and opportunistic types who want to sell you the promised land. They’ll leave a complimentary comment on a tweet about my books, and then ask if we can talk privately. They are fishing for you to sign up to a marketing scheme, and naturally these things aren’t free. Depending on how you feel about their approach, it comes off as either aggressive or needy.

Displaying the slightest hint of interest, or even by responding at all, leads to them offering you vague assertions about how they can help you sell more books. You can ask them for the bottom line (what it costs), but they rarely give you a straight answer. I for one am trying to make money from my books, not spend more, so I am not usually interested in these ploys.

The trouble is, they are quite persistent. I wonder if they appreciate how desperate they appear, especially to someone who works in sales? Speaking of sales…

A Busy April

I am naturally very happy to have got The Schism to the publisher, but I must also express a fair degree of happiness with my day job. You see, it’s been quite busy, which certainly has its downsides, but when it’s busy in the right way, it can be rewarding. I have a little more ‘pep in my step’ where customers are concerned, which is obviously the right attitude!

Romford Racism

Regardless of your stance on Israel and Palestine, I’d like to think most of my readers will agree that hurling racist abuse at people in the street is a pretty vile act. The perpetrator of this was aggressive, and full of posturing (perhaps not incidentally, he appeared to exclusively target women, suggesting latent sexism, as well as cowardice). His behaviour deserves police intervention, and at the time of writing this, the police are looking into it.

I have said it before, I am no lover of Islam, just as I am no lover of organised religion in general, but there is a distinction between the religion and the believer. As long as people do not bother me with their beliefs, I will not bother them. Angry racist, Islamophobic abuse, with possibly a touch of misogyny thrown in as well (would this fella dream of making his remarks to a man? Probably not) is hardly going to achieve anything for anyone, and has no place in a civilised society.

The Neediness Continues

Having mentioned the persistent efforts of marketing gurus to get my custom, it is worth noting that in the intervening days since writing that portion of the Muse, that persistence has continued. This is despite me making it clear I am not in a position to afford their services. I am not especially turned on by desperation, and my financial situation has not changed. Take a hint! One person asked me to add them as a friend on Twitter, and despite me warning them not to message me about marketing or promotions (I made it clear I was not interested), they proceeded to do so anyway. Cue me unfollowing them.

Under the Weather

Recently, one of my colleagues has had a stinking cold. I fear I too now have a cold. I can feel that early tingle that denotes getting all bunged up. My colleague has had a horrid, hacking cough as well, which I could sorely do without. Is it possible to hack up a lung? On the basis of observed evidence, I’d be forgiven for thinking it possible!

The Gardening Procrastination

I hate cutting the grass. Gardening in general irritates me, for it uses up that most precious commodity: time. As such, I tend to put it off, and then it becomes a bigger problem, which makes me inclined to put it off even more. I know that’s a terrible attitude, but I do truly loathe gardening. What makes it worse is that the once-free council collections of garden waste are now done via a chargeable subscription service. The current cost is £50 a year, which is not a lot, but I resent it on principle. I pay my taxes, and refuge collection is part of what I pay for, yet the local Tory-led council then adds on additional charges! I should not be surprised; the Tories, even at a local level, prove themselves to be money-focused. I for one have no other means of disposing of garden waste, which means I am captive to the Tories and their greed.

I also want a new lawnmower. My existing one is getting to be quite ancient, and frankly it pisses me off. The handle keeps slipping out of the mower’s base. Half of the cut grass fails to reach the collection box at the back. it aggravates me, and I need to get rid of it. There are quite a few decent ones out there, it’s a question of choosing what works best for me.

Labour’s Railway Plan

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am on the fence where Keir Starmer’s Labour are concerned. Whilst I view them as a better option than the Tories, I fear they are Tory-lite in some respects, and won’t go far enough in their policies and plans to differentiate from the Tories. However, plans to renationalise the UK’s railway network are a welcome step in the right direction. Privatising the railways did not result in better costs for the consumer, and at one stage, cost-cutting led to to disastrous, tragic repercussions (see the Hatfield Rail Crash). Having a public service actually run in the interests of the public, and not shareholders, is a good move.

What needs to happen next is something similar with water and energy companies. Whether Labour will commit to this is anyone’s guess,, but we live in hope.

Desperate Dreams

Not for the first time, I had the ‘desperate’ dream the other night. You know the one, where you really, really need to pee. The setting was a bit odd though. I was at school, only it wasn’t anything like my old school, and for the most part, I was wearing nothing but a towel! Actually I need to rewind a bit, for there was a connected segment beforehand where I was competing on a quiz show, something about guessing what people were drawing. It was after this point that I was at school, looking for a loo, but most of them were out of order, or in a terrible state. A few other students, also only in towels (!) were suffering from the same problem.

Eventually, I found a loo, and started to ‘go’, which was a relief (ha). However, I was distracted by the sound of a woman screaming that someone was taking something that belonged to her. She kept screaming, over and over and over, and I think I was manifesting my wife’s snoring in my dream! I woke up at that point, thankful to have not actually peed, and immediately rushed to the loo!

Gradually Returning to Normal

It feels like the cold I had is breaking a little quicker than I’d expected, though this is certainly no bad thing! Hopefully this serves to be a trend!

Ending April on a High

As a salesperson, I want sales. Sometimes I have to push myself to get them, even when I am struggling to be motivated. The extra effort can yield some good results, such as a lovely order on Saturday that rather made the weekend! Soldiering on whilst feeling ill hasn’t been especially pleasant, but that’s all I can do. I have a wife and daughter who depend on me, so I have to get on with it.

Speaking of ending on a high… or in this case a strange note, I had a dream the other night that took me to the living room of an old friend, where we were watching a Transformers movie. In the course of the dream, I had hoped for either food, or a drink, and both seemed agonisingly just out of reach. More odd was how the movie seemed to become reality, and suddenly we’re on a landscape filled with large, battling robots! The details are patchy, but I wound up in what was meant to be Westcliff, and I was aiming to get a bus home with my wife and daughter. Such are my dreams that they can lurch from one scenario to another in short order, and this was certainly no exception!

Thus concludes this Muse, and now we look to May in the hope that we might see nicer, warmer weather. It’s about time!

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