Bit of craziness here as I wait to see if the Military have booked my plane ticket to fly to Kimberley on Sunday for a week. The guy I have to deal with is particularly passive-aggressive and if he doesn’t feel like answering you he will carry on writing away while you stand there at his desk, waiting patiently for a reply.

The thing about Piet-skiet (as I call him, not to his face obviously) is that he only has nine fingers, which does make his work more difficult. As luck would have it, whatever military accident he was involved in (and which landed him in the sheltered employment of transport admin) took out the index finger of his right hand, which obviously makes writing a bit more challenging. It also makes his right hand look like a pistol with his long middle finger (now replacement index finger) as the single barrel. If we were in high school I could playfully call him sharpshooter and abbreviate this to “sharp” every time I saw him. In a South African context this would be funny since “sharp” is local lingo for “cool, OK, alright”. Leaving my car on a dark, wintry street in the evenings as I go to wherever it is I’m going, I’ll make eye-contact with the guy in the luminous yellow vest, give him the thumbs-up and say, “sharp”. The greeting will probably go: “Look after your car?”, “Sharp”, “Sharp”.

Piet-skiet, on the other hand, is anything but sharp. So there we sit, all five of us would-be-travellers, in Pieter’s office as he demonstrates surprising dexterity for a nine-fingered man, and wait. My phone rings and it’s someone from the nursery to say my dog has escaped and is now in their office. When can I get there? About 20 to 30 minutes. I ask Pieter if I’m still needed or whether my colleague can collect my form for me. Silence. Oh well, I’ll just leave anyway, shall I? Sharp.


I’ll probably take a bit of time away from the blog and be back around the 13th of June. I’m adopting a fairly relaxed attitude to the spam-comments thing. I’m sure there must be a glitch in their system whereby my IP address registers as spam (for some unknown reason). Akismet have stopped responding to my requests for help and I’ve decided to let bloggers know (via email) if there’s a comment I’d like them to see.

• Pleased to report some progress on the V&A project (that’s Violence and Aggression research). I’ve decided that I want to write at least 10 chapters on this, and I’ve got enough ideas to keep me a busy for a whole year.

• It’s really horrible about that Air France plane crash and from a purely selfish point of view, I really don’t want to hear stuff like that in the days before I have to fly somewhere. Those poor people.

• The latest LRB has a really interesting article by John Lanchester on the current financial crisis. He explains the whole banking system wonderfully well and he had me totally convinced that the old way of doing business is completely unsustainable. Effectively he argues for the state to take over the banks — but also acknowledges that to do this properly is unlikely. (Incidentally, can the Royal Bank of Scotland really be the biggest company in the world by asset value?)

• P and I watched an oldish horror movie called The Hitcher and it was pretty good as horror movies go (which is actually pretty bad as far as movies go). I got way too involved in the movie and started shouting at the pretty girl in the skimpy outfit not to do the crazy stuff she was doing which was allowing the weird, creepy psycho guy to hurt her some more. The scene with the truck and boyfriend was just horrible. Really bad.

• On a completely different topic, and also in the latest LRB, Anne Enright’s diary was thoughtful, brilliantly simple and very common-sensical. Hotels are places of possibility (and therefore suggestive of sex and even murder) but the reality is a lot more mundane and humdrum. I couldn’t help thinking that she left out all the good bits of being a successful, Booker-prize-winning novelist! It’s a tough life if you can get it, hey?

• Lastly, it looks like I’m getting a whole book to do the first edit on, which is very exciting and rather scary. The writer is also poep-scared (as she says) that it’s no good and I really should write back to say that it’s fine and we’re on track.


10 Responses to Sharpshooter

  1. doctordi says:

    I think ignoring people is the absolute height of rudeness, Pete. Be sure to offer him a special finger from me.

    Travel safe! And very exciting news otherwise. Oh, and I remember seeing the Hitcher when I was really too young to do so – it instilled a fear of hitching early and permanently.

  2. adevotedreader says:

    Sorry to hear you’re at the mercy of some passive agressive bloke, hope you get a ticket and have a safe journey.

    Just re the spam issue, at my blog your comment didn’t go the spam queue.

  3. Litlove says:

    Gah, those passive-aggressive types drive me mad. Walk away every time – they do it for attention, after all. The news lately has been terrible, so in my hopeless way I’ve given up watching it. Air France was bad enough, but we’ve had an awful story about the parents of a disabled child who died of meningitis carrying out a suicide pact because they couldn’t live without him. This sort of thing gives me existential angst. Do hope that the travelling away is really interesting and contains some fun and proves that variety is as good as a rest.

  4. sandy says:

    I think he’s just hiding his finger so he can passive-aggressively give everyone the finger.

    Hope you get on that plane you’re waiting for. And have a great time wherever you are headed.

  5. Have a good trip! And cool about the book (or do you say sharp?).

  6. Pete says:

    DoctorDi – Haha re the finger. I wouldn’t dare! And as for the book edit, have just fired off some quite critical feedback (couched with a lot of praise) so I hope I haven’t scared her off. But I think it’s a great story if we agree to work together (and she agrees on my modest fee).

    Sarah – I was so pleased to see my comment made it through Akiskmet to your blog. Here’s holding thumbs!

    Litlove – Oh what a terrible story. I do know what you mean about avoiding the news for a while. And thanks for the positive thought re my trip being fun and adding some variety. Fun? Maybe you’re right!

    Sandy – Nice. Lots of finger jokes to draw on I’m sure. Thanks for the good wishes re my trip. I think I worry a few days in advance to get most of it out of my system. Will do some self-CBT on the plane!

    Lilian – Yes, sharp indeed! I’m excited and nervous about this book, which is probably a good thing. So easier to comment on someone else’s work than my own though 😉

  7. Pete says:

    Don’t tell Akismet but I just commented on Di’s blog and it went through. Incrodulible!

  8. litlove says:

    Your comment on my blog came straight through too…. here’s hoping!

  9. doctordi says:

    Yes, it’s true – perhaps your days in the spam queue are over! I was so excited to see it there – unassisted! Welcome back, Pete!

    Have you heard back re. your edit? I think she’ll be grateful for the constructive criticism – I hope so, anyway, because it’s so important, and so invaluable, and so, um, unavoidable for most writers that it pays to get used to it and fast.

  10. Pete says:

    Litlove – Yay. Haven’t checked my commenting status since I’ve been back though.

    DoctorDi – Good news – she liked my constructive criticism and gave me the editing job. She freely admits that she’s not a writer though, and sadly it does show. A complete rewrite is out of the question so I’ll just do what I can and leave her with some pointers on how she can improve it. For a start I’m telling her to describe rather than tell. Of course it’s much easier to criticise than to actually write! But one big no-no is an over-abundance of the passive voice.

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