A.J. Walker


Unopened Mic

Realise that it has been a while since my last open mic, but it was only when I looked up my old photos I found it was over three months. Bloody hell time is flying so fast this year. I'm sure the speeding up of time would be a major news item right now if it wasn't for all the other horrendous news stories. I'm trying to not spend too much time watching the news as it's all so depressing—mixed with horror and feelings of helplessness.

Sticking with books, binge watching TV series, and listening to & playing music as escapism. My last time out with a guitar I was wearing a smart white shirt instead of my usual checked ones. Reckon that is what has caused this hiatus. I'm definitely overdue a return to some open mic, so maybe I'll get back out there in the next fortnight or so.

Open Mic. I'll be back. But maybe not in a white shirt.


MC and the KSRs

MC Logo

A couple of weeks ago I won the Microcosms weekly challenge Judge's Pick for Week 211. The story, 'The Missing Days of Lorraine Little', is presented again on my Fictions page. There is a $25/£20 prize for the judge's pick which means I've gone and bought three more books (having recently said I wouldn't buy any more books this year). My To Be Read pile is more than a little excessive. Anyway thanks to the prize I now have three new Kim Stanley Robinson's to dig into at some point: 2312 ; Aurora ; and The Ministry for the Future.

Microcosms is a great free to enter competition, and with the multiple sections to the prompt it really stretches you to tell a story in so few words (<300). Why not get on over and give it a go sometime? Get writing. Speaking of which I think I'll try and do this week's challenge (#214) today. The prompts look quite appealing, either: Inmate / Secret Research Facility / Sci-FI, or, Firefighter / Ancient Library / Crime/Thriller. I'm torn which one to go for as I think both sets of prompts look very promising for a nice story. And who knows, if you go for it, you may first get a 300 word story that leads to an idea for an altogether different prospect for a longer story—as well as an entry for a free to enter competition. Where will your writing take you?

Microcosms website:

Andy Two Jabs; Or Is It Four?

On Saturday morning I had both a flu jab; in my left arm at my local medical centre (my GP’s)); and then my Covid jab in my right arm in my local hospital. The medical centre is all of 200m away from my house so I was back at home with a coffee within about seven minutes of leaving my house. Happy days (though shame my original booking two weeks ago was messed up).

My local hospital (where the Covid vaccination hub is) is within a mile and just one bus stop away. I was in and out of there in no time too. Think it was three or four minutes from registering my arrival, picking up my already filled in card to getting my jab and leaving. Brilliant.

The nurse said it was my fourth Covid jab. I’d kinda lost count to be honest. Glad I can get them too—one bonus of having MS hey!

Didn't notice any ill effects on the day either. Result.

Pacemaking Reading and Pokemon No

My reading is a bit behind schedule if I am going to hit the target I set myself at the start of the year: to read 31 books in ‘23. It was the number of books I read last year and I just didn’t want to read fewer than that. Clearly if I read at the same pace as I have for the first half of the year (okay, more like 75%) then I ain’t gonna get to my goal (which wasn’t exactly a stretch goal initially).

At this point I’ve read 21 books this year, which means I’d have to read a further 10 between now and the end of December. To be fair that’d be about a book every 8 days or so. That’s not really too difficult if I really want to. I mean maybe just reading more often on my bus trips into town rather than turning on Pokémon Go would take me a fair way to achieving the goal.

Having my predictable mix/fix of science fiction and non-fiction and I dare say that will continue. Just finished the
Agatha Christie biography by Lucy Worsley, which I found really interesting (I dare say it’ll be turned into a TV doc soon). I grew up reading plenty of Agatha’s books (usually over summer holidays)—my mum was an avid reader and loved them and Ngaio Marsh etc and I think she passed on the habit to the whole family.


My current read is ‘the Strange’ by Nathan Ballingrud. He’s a new author to me and it’s a book I picked up in Oxfam recently (not that I needed to add to my TBR pile). Set on Mars, which is suddenly and mysteriously separated from contact with Earth by The Silence, and while I’m only a few chapters in, so far I’m liking it a lot.


So if I can read a book every 8 days or so between now and the end of the year I’ll pass the New Year finish line with a win. I reckon I will do it, but we shall see. It’s not like I need to progress any further on Pokémon. Or do I?

A Slight Farewell to Poetry

Several weeks ago it was announced that the weekly ReadMeSpeakMe event was going to take a break, which may or may not be permanent. This was run on Twitter whereby a poem written by someone within the ReadMeSpeakMe community would be posted up every Sunday morning and people invited to read it out loud and record in which ever format they preferred. Some used Soundcloud or similar, or on the shorter poems would record directly to Twitter—generally I'd record using iMovie and post on YouTube.

The final poem (at least for now) was 'I Wouldn't Say I Was A Poet' by Sean Logue (@SeanCLogue on Twitter). I guess it wasn't a coincidence too that the week's event was a nice round and large number: 200. It's a good innings for any one person to arrange each week. One person undertaking to organise and post any weekly challenge must be thanked for their time and effort in doing it. Even if you may think 'it can't take much time' etc then ask yourself why aren't you are doing it? I remember what it was like when I was involved in CAMRA and people would ask why wouldn't we do such and thing. Nearly everyone involved had jobs and families and other things in their lives as well as doing whatever their role in CAMRA was at the time. People not involved in the organisation expected volunteers to volunteer again and again for more and more; or else be seen as inadequate, but ask them to get involved and the answer was always no. I used to put up a weekly challenge on Twitter myself called the 'Seedling Challenge' (tied in with the weekly VSS365 prompts). It was sometimes enjoyable but often thankless and in the end I had to let it peacefully pass away as few people really got involved and it got to the point I felt it was a waste of my time—even if it wasn't that much each week. I could use the time to do something else for myself; perhaps have another coffee, or strum the geetar a little. I don't regret it going. It may have been a small rod for my own back, but it was a constraint I really didn't need to carry on with.

And so ReadMeSpeakMe, like the Seedling Challenge, has come to an end too. Perhaps it'll be back someday, perhaps not. But it was enjoyable while it lasted.

Perhaps I'll get on a write and read my own poetry again. Or play some more geetar: with or without involving YouTube.

For the 200th poem I donned a celebratory hat, and even though it may have turned out to be a sad occasion in retrospect I do not think a black hat would have been more appropriate. Here was my final reading: '
I Wouldn't Say I Was A Poet'


I must take this opportunity to thank @ReadMeSpeakMe herself for the 200 times she's put it out there for us and to the people involved in it through the time I've been involved with it. Peace be with you all. Thank you all and good night.