Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm going to scream

Photo by Torbein

To tax your car you need a valid MOT (Ministry of Transport ) certificate and to be insured. We have a valid MOT certificate and we're insured but our insurance certificate is still in the post.

No worries! We can tax online. The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) checks the Motor Insurance Database so you don't need the certificate. They even let you check the MID first yourself and sure enough it showed we're insured. Great! Then I tried to give the government my money for a tax disc by filling out the online form but they declined as they couldn't find my insurance using the very same database they'd just sent me to check on!

There is a helpline you can ring, but they are experiencing a high level of demand and regret that they cannot take my call. Click.

OK then, I can't renew online.

Still no worries! You can use a downloadable insurance certificate, print it off and go to the Post Office. So I rang Direct Line and waited for twenty minutes to talk to someone. The "high level of demand" must be catching. Direct Line don't do downloadable certificates but they do send out certificates many days in advance of the new insurance. Yup, posting on Saturday afternoon to get there on Monday makes a lot of sense with our current postal system. But if I wanted the certificate to arrive when the insurance started I should have told them, so clearly it's my bad.

So, I can't get the government to take the money for my car tax and our car is off the road until a piece of paper arrives through the post. I'm trying not to scream.

We've cancelled our renewal for Direct Line for next year. I think they were relieved as I was being an awkward customer. I wish we could cancel our contract with DVLA.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Pattern thanks to Attic24
This month as well as finishing a granny lap blanket I've made a hat, another hat, yet another hat, a scarf, a shawl, a bag, a soap saver, and a rainbow bird decoration.

I haven't been writing. I think I needed a break - writing was beginning to seem like work and crochet is play.

Do you ever need a break from writing, or from whatever you mostly do?

Edited to add: here's a picture of the shawl at Bab's request:
Pattern thanks to Lion Brand

Friday, February 18, 2011

Support the worst film ever made

Atlanta Nights was deliberately written to be the worst book ever produced and now they're making a film of it. Would you like to support it through Kickstarter?

The reason for writing such a terrible book was to see if PublishAmerica would take it on. They did. This "not a vanity publishing press, oh no, not us" company later withdrew their offer - but only after the authors owned up and told them that it was a hoax. Previously they hadn't noticed misnumbered and repeated chapters or an entire chapter generated by a program that simply recycled sentences from earlier chapters.

The film is intended as a terrible warning. I'm not sure whether I'm up for shelling out for it but it's interesting. What do you think? You can find the Kickstarter page here and it's worth looking at the Wiki article too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Agent to the Stars

John Scalzi made Agent to the Stars available free online because he didn't have a publisher for it; his later books have been published but apparently there's no market for humorous science fiction. Or something. Anyway, if you'd like your free ebook it's available from Many Books.

I enjoyed it. It's rather silly but great fun. If you read it, I'd love to know what you think.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Married with Zombies

A while back, Evil Editor had Jesse Petersen on his bookchat while we discussed her book Married with Zombies. I couldn't get hold of a copy quickly enough to join in the chat - it wasn't out in the UK and the US sellers were all giving ridiculous timelines for getting it to me. Jesse kindly sent me a free autographed copy.

At the same time I ordered my own copy from so that I could pass on the favour and it has now arrived. (We've been passing on kindnesses since long before "pay it forward" was a catchphrase.) If you would like it, please tell me why in the comments and on Wednesday I'll pick someone to send it to. (You have until Wednesday 6pm GMT, which is 1pm EST as far as I know.) It may not get posted till the weekend, though, as I'm still not quite up to scratch.

The book is a wild zombie romp, rather more gory than I like but funny enough to get me past that. The story is about a couple who save their marriage by fighting zombies and if you think Shaun of the Dead you're in the right area. Everyone who came to the chat had enjoyed the book - which is unusual for an Evil Editor chat!

Friday, February 04, 2011

In other news

Here is one I made earlier
I've had some sort of a bug, which on top of the CFS mostly had me stuck on the sofa for a week feeling too knackered to post. I dug out an old granny blanket (afghan) that I'd abandoned years ago and added a few rows and looked online for some wool (yarn). Then I found Ravelry. There should be trumpet sounds here but you'll have to imagine them.

Ravelry is a site for people who love knitting, or crochet, or both and I've found a whole host of fellow crocheters as well as learning more about how to crochet than I have in the past thirty odd years.

What's odd to me is how I seem to end up in the more marginalised section of whatever I love. Crochet is looked down on by a lot of knitters, who are in the majority. And in the same way, I've always loved reading but my favourite genre sci fi is even now often regarded as inferior and many people only seem to relate it to films. It was worse in the 60s: a girl reading sci fi! You could see by the covers the books were meant for men!

I've no idea when this is from

Being a woman, and older, and into computer games isn't entirely mainstream either. I don't do any of these things because I like to be in a minority; they just come naturally!

Are there any things that you do that put you outside the mainstream?

My work in progress
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