ness talks about life

things i did not do in 2022

If I had a nickel for every event I organised in 2022 and missed … I’d have three nickels. That’s not a lot but it’s weird that it’s happened three times …

I MISSED A FLIGHT TO CARCASSONNE

Yeah, I could have gone to the France. (Bonjour! Voulez vous une baguette?) I had a cheap flight, and an airbnb booked – it was beautiful, a lovely little apartment up several flights of winding steps, overlooking the old town, with a cathedral at the very bottom of it all. A boulangerie right around the corner. I could have sat on a balcony, eaten pastries, and woven a story!

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

I did … none of those things.

The week before I was due to catch the short flight over to France two things (2) happened:

a) I began to feel a tiny, incy bit poorly

b) the feeling of dread began to climb

There was this very vivid mental image in my mind, you see – I hop on a plane and go to a country, find a ride from the airport to the apartment, walk deserted streets, forget to buy food because it’s too late, lie on the bed and perish of starvation. In the morning I wake, a Victorian waif, and sip water from a tap. Misery is my companion. Despair, my friend.

The vibes, I announced to any unfortunate person in my general vicinity, were off.

I released that I was an adult and thusly, I have autonomy. If I do not want to hop on a flight and butcher a beautiful language and be battered to death with a baguette – I did not have to.

This felt like a sudden and beautiful moment of self-realisation.

The plane took off. My seat, empty. The airbnb, cancelled.

(And it was a good thing too – I developed a filthy cold and had a redder nose than Rudolf himself. Forgive me, Rudolf! I’ll be guiding that sleigh tonight!)

I DID NOT SEE SPOCK

I say this with love, but I probably shouldn’t be permitted to buy tickets. To anything. You know, just no tickets in general. Step away. Don’t purchase.

And, in the dreadful occasion that I do purchase the tickets, I should also ensure that I have a method, a means, or a way – of getting a refund.

(I have not learned my lesson.)

A friend and I were going to go down to London to see Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Friar Tuck (David Harewood) in a play which probably was Very Serious and Important. I definitely was going for the cultural element, and not because I was determined to support Zachary Quinto in person.

We had a dream. We had a plan. We even had a parking space. And then strikes hit the railways and a dastardly cold struck my friend.

Reader, I tried to give those tickets to someone else. I did my very best. There were no takers. We couldn’t move the tickets without incurring extra cost, and we couldn’t get a refund, and if I made the trip on my own I would be driving at one am in the morning. No one wanted that. Especially me, Ness, who is very attached to the idea of being in bed and not on a motorway in the wee hours of the morning.

Alas, when the curtains opened there would have been two empty seats in Grand Circle Row F. But listen, dear actors and stage hands and theatre folk – we were there in spirit.

I messaged my friend: this play is moving me to tears.

He agreed, but mentioned that he couldn’t see the stage as someone’s head was in the way.

We were, in all probability, in our PJs, in our respective homes.

I DID NOT GO TO COMIC CON

… as you can tell, there is a theme here.

Having been to London Comic Con, dressed as Jason Todd and sporting the fakest and most wonderful of crowbars, it was obviously imperative to do it again. But this time? A friend and I were going to be dressed as hobbits.

How exciting! How thrilling!! We were going to look spectacular! The hobbitiest hobbits to ever hobbit! I began mental preparations to make the hobbit feet (and by ‘make’ I mean ‘buy’).

These plans did not last long.

‘What if,’ I asked my friend, ‘we went as ironic hobbits. With a white t-shirt that said “Hobbit” on it?’

She agreed.

I felt quite smug, as if I was a future hipster Hobbit. I could run around and demand if total strangers had eaten their second breakfast! What panache! What style!

but just imagine us, accosting everyone ‘HAVE THEY TAKEN THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD?’ and then being thrown out of comic con because our great wit proved to be too powerful

Those t-shirts, dear reader, were never made.

But no worries! We were still 100% going to comic con!! It would be grand! Great! Brilliant! It … did not quite happen.

There was a communications failure and the carrier pigeon I sent my friend was shot on its way to her. To exacerbate the matter, I had neglected to organise a) transport and b) apparel – assuming, of course, that magically and wonderfully these things would just … happen.

They did not. We live in a society.

The night before, a decision had to be made. When the morning of comic con dawned, I had a delightful lie-in.

(Sometimes, the best plans can be the cancelled ones.)


Believe it or not, the interrupted plans don’t worry me too much. Sometimes, the dream of going somewhere – that delicious, comforting feeling of something to look forward to – is worth the money itself.

(Is that what I say to comfort myself? Yes. Yes, it is.)

In Calvin & Hobbes, Calvin’s dad would probably say cancelled plans were character building or something, and you know what? I’d agree with him. I really did enjoy that lie-in.

What things didn’t you do in 2022?

ness talks books

oh. a biro. wow – spare, by prince harry

Look, I read books about concepts, history, dead people or fictional people. I do not tend to read memoirs by real world figures. And reviewing them? This is about actual people. Their faces stare back at me from newspapers and websites. These are names that I, a British person, know. Reviewing this book (or recounting it, as I like to say) is not quite the same as reviewing a work of fiction. (Though some, evidently, believe it to be precisely that.)

But, oh well, it’s 2023. So why not? For two days, Prince Harry’s face has been staring at me from the front cover of his brand new book ‘Spare’. It’s a bit disconcerting, if I’m honest.

I’m not wrong, am I?

Think of the whole book as a therapy session, but one in which the building is burned after the session is over.

No. Stop there. View it as Prince Harry’s vindication. He’s been holding all those receipts in one hand, and all the salacious press clippings in the other. And he wants to tell the world what actually happened. His story. His words.

My problem has never been with the monarchy, or the concept of monarchy. It’s been with the press and the sick relationship that’s evolved between it and the Palace.

prince harry

If you’re wanting to have a concise and eloquent review, please go elsewhere. This is about biros and headstands. If you want a review lambasting and vilifying the Royal Family, please click off. And, if you want a review doing the same to Prince Harry, this isn’t that.

Right.

Now that’s out of the way.

This book is wild. There’s just so … so much.

The publishers asked Harry – ‘Harry, how much detail did you want to go into?’ and Harry stood up and said: ‘yes. Even my frostnipped nethers.’

And we, the people, said: ‘oh no’ and read on.

We found out that the King used to do headstands, for example. That’s new. I can’t do them, myself. But I’m trying. Kudos to him. He probably shouldn’t be doing them now though.

There was the deer blooding moment which felt very normal. (It reminded me of Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I did not expect to be reminded of that. Not on my bingo card. If I’d had one. Which I didn’t.)

There was the Ali-G reference. (AN ALI-G REFERENCE. IN THIS BOOK. I CAN’T.) The two mentions of Stewie from Family Guy.

Princess Margaret gave Harry a biro once, and this was a symbol of her not quite caring and being cold-blooded. ‘Oh. A biro. Wow’ occurs more than once in the book. I’m fond of a good biro myself. However, in the book it was a symbolic reference. I underlined it every time it came up because I thought it was funny. And this is why I should never talk about real life books written by real life people about their very real lives on this blog. I feel mean.

(Unlike the tabloid writers, it appears.)

Look, you get the impression that Harry remembers every single word of bad press about him (and the people who wrote said bad press. They do not escape unscathed. Au contraire, they are very scathed.) and this book sets the record straight. And why not, after all?

However, in the midst of setting the record straight, he also discuses his brother, sister-in-law, father, step-mother, and grandmother. Known to me and you (the plebs!) as Prince William, Princess Catherine, King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla, and the Late Queen herself. There’s a level of detail about the Royal Family that is unsurpassed. I’m not so certain that a reconciliation would be easy after this.

The Royal Family has always had this air of mystique about it. The veil has been torn asunder, and the smoke of secrecy has been blown away. And we are left with something.

An avocado. Thannnnkkss.

we all have our opinions. i shall not discuss mine here.

One vital part of being human is to be able to relate to other fellow humans. To sympathise with them. And Harry’s grief, his anger at the press, his loneliness, his concern for the treatment of his wife … these are all deeply understandable.

However, I kept on reading and the descriptions of nipping over to Botswana, parties, Palaces, hiding out with Elton John, going on shooting trips, even Eton – oh my gosh, Eton, what a place! A place that exists! But WHY does it exist? – really made me think.

You know, sometimes you do get a bit concerned about the upper class. One wonders how they are doing. Just fine, it seems. (Well …) In a different realm of existence, evidently.

Regarding the writing – I think the ghostwriter, JR Moehringer, did an excellent job and the voice seems quite authentic. (Though sometimes I thought this was a novel and got quite confused. This is why I shouldn’t read memoirs.) I thought the epilogue was quite touching.


In conclusion, if you are wanting to wade into professing an opinion regarding this book – perhaps read it first. Don’t we owe it to him? The press has made mint off this man, and this man’s family, why not give him – at the very least – a hearing?

However, I have to admit – I’m a little weary of it all. Britain? You’ve got so many other worries right now you absolute muppets. We need to deal with them. And the British Press? You need a better hobby. And some ethics.

ness talks about life

2022 – it happened

2022 was a year that happened. That’s an entirely accurate statement. No word of a lie. Things were done and doings were … thinged (?) Moving swiftly on …

WRITING

I have written two novellas, finished one fanfiction project (I have zero regrets), and started countless projects. I wish that I could have done more, but it hasn’t been my focus this year … and that’s okay.

Project If is changing form again. I think I’ve cracked the problem – the reason why I haven’t been able to look it in the eye for months, if not years. The genre is the problem. Humour is where I feel most comfortable, and I think if I concentrate on inserting that aspect into the book, I might actually end up with something I can be happy with. (And giggle about. Because I dearly love to giggle at my work. IT’S FUNNY DANG IT ALL. I WILL POINT YOU TO THE BOOK ABOUT TOXIC UNICORN MANURE. MY SENSE OF HUMOUR IS REFINED hahahahaha.)

ADVENTURES

I’ve been very blessed to have had lots of adventures this year. I’ve written about one or two of them on here.

bruges was beautiful, like a postcard come to life

To get to spend time with the people I love? To watch my nieces and nephews grow up? To just hang with friends and family? To be a part of their adventures – big or small? To cheer on my best friend as she went on a big-awesome-amazing adventure of her own? To watch Rings of Power with my brothers and sister-in-law and terrorise them all with my firm devotion to Adar AKA Father of the Year? My bank account may never be heaving but I’m rich and I defy anyone who says otherwise.

READING

Storygraph tells me I’ve read 46 books this year. To read the list of books is to time travel, in a way. There’s a few comic books on there – may I recommend Batman Adventures and also Batman: Curse of the White Knight?

a dear friend sent me this book and it made me cry so please read it too

There’s a spattering of non-fiction, Backstabbing For Beginners by Michael Soussan was incredibly immersive … and eye opening … and depressing. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman gave me a dose of reality and a wish to make the most of the time I’ve been given.

It would be hard to choose my very favourite book this year, but I have to say, listening to the Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan was wild and I would 100% recommend. I also discovered Mo Dao Zu Shi, a story that is living proof that you can cram maximum tropes into one narrative with maximum impact and it is 10/10 inspirational to writers everywhere.

Oh! Hot tip: if you ever read The Communist Manifesto, I’d suggest reading Animal Farm first. Also pronouncing bourgeoisie is one of my favourite things to do.

MOVIES

RRR – I watched it. I stayed up until 1:30 am to finish it and what a wild ride. Reader, I was consumed. It was a musical, an essay on the horrors of British Colonialism, a bromance, an Intro To The Care And Keeping of Tigers 101, Action Scenes That Tom Cruise WISHES He Was Part Of, and just … perfection. I’m going to be watching it again with a friend and I cannot wait.

it is magnificent

I went to see The Batman three (3) times and I have zero (0) regrets. The OST moved me to tears (‘It’s the cellos, Mum!’) and everything – everything – was a feast for a dedicated Batman: The Animated Series fan. Please watch it and you’ll agree with me that this Batman? He’d deffo adopt an orphan and think it 100% normal behaviour to let him run amok on the streets as Robin.

bat/cat 4 lyfe

You can’t really mention Batman without also mentioning the horrible loss of Kevin Conroy this year; he will always be the definitive voice of Batman, and was a thoroughly wonderful human being. Batman will always bear the mark of his legacy.

MUSIC

clearly ambiguous is a prestigious two-person music group band thing of which I am a half. Heh. Read that sentence again. I don’t like to brag, but we had twenty-two monthly listeners the other day. Which, you know, is one more than twenty-one. We’re kinda famous like that.

I don’t have any excuse for this, really. Except that it was lots and lots of fun to do and now I’m blessed with knowing that I have a cackle that could be called creepy. This self-knowledge is very enlightening. Someone give me flight clearance, cause I am ascending.

LIFE

They say that time flies but listen, it doesn’t. There was so much muchness in 2022 my head boggles with it. I look back on it all and I require smelling salts ASAP please and thank you! I’ve learned a lot – in the conventional sense – I’ve always kept educating myself because oh heck yeah, it’s fun. (The mitochondria is the something of something.) But in the rest? About life? I feel like I know less. Logic? WHERE YOU AT?

2022 wasn’t always an easy year, but how can I look back on it with anything but fondness, because I was lucky enough to spend it with those I care about?

me, looking as human as ever

And to you, yes you, reading this post – thank you! I hope you have a wonderful new year. Have courage, and be kind – to yourself and to others. I’ll try and do the same.

Happy New Year!

books, ness talks books

the curse of the pharaohs: is it a curse or is it PROPAGANDA

When Lady Baskerville’s husband Sir Henry dies after discovering what may have been an undisturbed royal tomb in Luxor, she appeals to eminent archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson and his wife Amelia to take over the excavation.

GOODREAD’S BLURB

If Crocodile On The Sandbank was the Prologue, we’re now in Chapter One of the Peabody Saga. Amelia and Emerson are happily married with a child, Ramses AKA one of my favourite characters in the history of ever. Picture Damian Wayne (Batman comics) and William Brown (Just William series) as a single character. And that’s just him as a child.

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS

We start in England. Amelia and Emerson are both very depressed to be stuck in the rainy, foggy, not-hot country. They don’t like their neighbours. They don’t like the English way of life. However, they are doing it for their son – Ramses – who is alarmingly precocious and also too young to go to Egypt.

There’s this delicious scene where Amelia is trying to be polite to a neighbour and in comes Ramses, with an ‘unbroken stream of liquid filth’ marking his path. He dumps something he’s found in the compost heap onto her lap.

Ramses put his head on one side and studied his bone with a thoughtful frown. ‘I fink,’ he said, ‘it is a femuw. A femuw of a winocowus.’

‘There are no rhinoceroses in England,’ I pointed out.

‘A a-stinct winocowus,’ said Ramses

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS PAGE 13

And then Amelia – who really has had enough of her neighbour, Lady Carrington – has an idea:

‘A splendid bone,’ I said, without even trying to resist the temptation. ‘You must wash it before you show it to Papa. But first, perhaps Lady Carrington would like to see it.’

ALSO PAGE 13

(She did not want to see it. The ensuing scene is hysterical.)

… it’s just brilliant, okay? I love it. I adore it. This is everything. Thank you. Goodbye. However, Ramses is left in England, safely with Evelyn and Walter as Emerson and Amelia are Summoned to finish the excavations of someone who has died under Mysterious Circumstances.

There is a curse! (Or is it a curse?!) There is danger – which Amelia deals with with typical aplomb:

We had almost reached the top when a sound made me glance up. I then seized Emerson by the ankles and pulled him down. The boulder which I had seen teetering on the brink missed him by less than a foot, sending splinters of rock flying in every direction when it struck.

Slowly Emerson rose to his feet. ‘I do wish, Peabody, that you would be a little less abrupt in your methods,’ he remarked, using his sleeve to wipe away the blood that was dripping from his nose. ‘A calm “Watch out, there,” or a tug at my shirt-tail would have proved just as effective, and less painful.’

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS PAGE 79

All in all, it’s a hilarious addition to the series. Characters who will appear throughout the series are introduced, there is the typical villain (all of the mysteries are excellent), and of course – a secondary romance that Amelia definitely doesn’t have a hand in matchmaking. She would never.

I would wish that Ramses appears more in this book, but knowing as I do how much of a staple he’ll be in this series – it’s okay. We’re good.

Oh! And then Emerson is accosted by a woman who believes he is her lover from a previous life. Because OF COURSE he does. It’s hysterical. 10/10. Please read.

happy reading!

lemme tell you a story

ochhhh Scotland, me lassie!

The first time I went to Scotland, the friend I was with went into anaphylactic shock just over the border and had to be taken to hospital. This time? No hospitals were involved and so I’d like to call it: an absolute win.

My brother and I decided we’d go to the Highlands for the weekend. I’d never been. Let me tell you … WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME EARLIER JUST HOW BEAUTIFUL THE HIGHLANDS ARE???! I’ve been cheated. Damn it, Time-Traveling Scottish Highlander Romance Novels! you didn’t tell me.

‘I’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road …’

Loch Lomand was beautiful and so big, so very, very big. I spent most of the time we were driving past it with my nose glued to the car window. We stopped in a small village by its banks and had some lovely soup served in tartan-patterned bowls.

We took a walk and a cat peered back at me from one window, a poster of Nicola Sturgeon from another. There was a strong feeling of wanting Scottish Independence up here – signs on lampposts etc. I felt almost sorry to subject everyone to my – unfortunately – incredibly English accent. (A common by-product of being English.)

Past Fort William and ever onwards, and the further we went, the more beautiful our surroundings were. There was this moment when heavy rain gave way to the most stunning hills that rolled downwards towards the car. It felt like a secret world, locked away and so very magical.

the view.

The AirBnB we booked was on its own little loch and again – stunning.

the breakfast. also: me

We went for a walk around its banks, got caught in the rain, but I entertained my brother by pretending to be the presenter on a documentary ‘AND IT WAS HERE, ON THIS VERY ROAD THAT WILLIAM WILLIAM HAMMERSMITH TROD’. I use the term ‘entertained’ very loosely. ‘Tortured’ would perhaps be more apt.

JUST LOOK AT IT

If you, dear reader, ever plan a trip up to Scotland, I’d advise doing such a thing as: checking the weather first, and also planning the trip. I’m not going to say that we didn’t do it, but I will say that it turned out marvellously in spite of our incredible organisational skills and the tropical storm battering everywhere at the time.

We went to Skye and saw our aunt and the little corner of paradise that is her back garden. Over a deliciously filling meal (far better than the sandwiches I’d cobbled together that morning) I realised just how nice it is to see familiar faces, especially when so far from home.

Eilean Donan Castle

We stopped off in Eilean Donan Castle where there were a lot of tourists (obviously I’d never call myself a tourist. Purchasing something from the gift shop DOESN’T COUNT.) and also torrential rain. It was entirely worth it, especially after we’d taken photos in front of the castle with gritted teeth, braved the queue for a coffee, and retreated with moderate haste, to the much drier confines of the car.

Eilean Donan Castle, as seen from the car. Where it was NOT raining.

With only one full day to spend in the Highlands, we’d done our best to spend it well. The next day, it was time to share the eight+ hours of driving it would take to get back home.

I insisted we stop at Gretna Green for two very important reasons:

  1. just in case I felt like eloping
  2. to make every regency novel heroine proud

It was then that disaster struck. I did not, dear reader, like Gretna Green. It did not have the romance. It did not even have a romance novel corner. This was a crushing moment of disillusionment. The only person to elope with was a shop mannequin and I did not feel Equal To The Task.

my future husband

We returned home, tired, but immensely satisfied. I’m going to steal the Highlands and shove them in my next book. It won’t be a time-travelling romance, because I still feel betrayed by them. It will, however, include such descriptors as:

‘The rain moves in ghostly veils across the loch, pushed by wind.’

and

‘Binky looks cold, wet, and utterly miserable.’

I can’t wait.