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10 January 2003

Yesterday I worked in the morning and half the afternoon, and so finished the rewrite of the Luke story. And so e-mailed it to the States, about half-past three; and in less than an hour had a reply, and a happy acceptance. This man is amazing, truly. The trick will be to remember that he is also unique.

Then into town to act as Gail-Nina's lovely assistant at her talk on fantasy films at the Tyneside Cinema: my job to change the videos over, to allow an even passage from clip to clip. Jean and Roger came, and Roger (being a person who reads other people's weblogs, and even responds to them) reminded me of Hofstadter's Law: 'It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.' Which is a little neater than Brenchley's First Rule of Everything, but occupies much the same territory and is, um, longer. As I said... (For those of you who haven't read it, Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach was a must-read for my generation, a primary text and deeply influential. Saw it again recently, so I know it's out there...)

The other excitement of recent days has been the near-death experience of my washing machine. It did in fact expire, mid-cycle, amid strange smells and internal noises; but I gave it a hard reboot - that is, I turned it off, kicked it hard and turned it on again - and it is now back online. But I do not trust it, and so I have been looking for a new one; and here we are in sale-time, and there's only one machine I want. Well, it's stainless steel, and rather gorgeous to look upon. And about three times the price that one needs to pay, so perhaps it's just as well that the old one is hanging in there. Aesthetics are important, but there may perhaps be limits.

Here's a thing, though. I don't make resolutions, but every year I start determined to do two things: to work harder, better and more; and not to teach, to say no to any invitation, to turn them down and run away. Every year, of course, I fail in both of these. We are currently, what, nine days in. So far the work is going well (I wrote a thousand words of the next fantasy proposal today, hurrah); but today my old friend Penny phoned from Northumbria University, to ask if I could do some tutorial work with her Creative Writing MA students. I have an ongoing relationship with Northumbria, even from before I was writer in residence there a couple of years ago. And Penny's a mate, and I was never any good at saying no even to total strangers. So of course I said yes. I have all the willpower of a boiled noodle (here's a thing, by the way: if you take uncooked poppadums and cut them into ribbons, then lay them on top of a hot curry, slap a lid on and take it off the heat, after a couple of minutes you have a pan full of soft creamy noodles to eat with it). Nine days is not exactly a record for my feebleness in holding out - one time I was out walking when I swore blind that I would take no more teaching; came home, the phone rang, would I run a workshop for sixth-formers, yes I would - but it's still extraordinarily feeble. I embarrass myself, I do.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.