bookmark_borderDeath of a tear

It was a quiet tear. Formed and full of pain as it silently glided down an already slick cheek. Blurry eyes and tightened throat the only acknowledgement of the source. There is no sound, no drama, but each one is noticed as it emerges, followed on its path, and grieved for when gone. There is no other sign, just tear after tear after unwiped tear.

Elsewhere the laughter echoes, proudly proclaiming the joy and release of itself. A booming noise of resonant depth, infectious and heartfelt. Tear after tear after tear are removed with a rough sweep of the hand. Forgotten in an instant as the laughter continues.

Other tears form unwanted, fought back through rage and determination. Caught in their birth moments and crushed defiantly. Aborted in anger. Smeared on the back of palms, a momentary lapse.

And there, in the black, where the tears flow freely, where they rush and tumble in their hurry, cheered on by gulping, choking and wretched cries, the tears willingly sacrifice themselves. Valiant and brave they take what they can with them, their silvery beads clinging to grief as it smashes to the ground, engulfed in the puddles.

Pity not the quiet tear, the sadness and heartache that it holds should not be despised or ignored, chastised or feared. The quiet tear is true, is alive and vivid and beautiful. For only the quiet tear exists purely to exist.

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bookmark_borderClock watching

I woke at… well… I think it was about 6.30am on Sunday. I went downstairs, fed the cat, put some coffee on and made some breakfast before settling down to watch the Australian Grand Prix coverage. I was recording it because it started at 6 am, not a time I usually see on a Sunday morning, and so I could skip through the adverts (go on, admit it, you spent the first hour waiting for them too, didn’t you).

It was about 7 am when I sat down in front of the TV and pressed PLAY. As ever, the recording included a few minutes of the previous programme, BBC News 24. Viewers of that programme will know that part of the on-screen information, permanently in view, is a clock.

And they’d forgotten to change the time! The BBC!! Terrible! Honestly, what do I pay my license for if they can’t even remember to change a clock. What is this country coming to?! Look at it, 5.58am! It’s not!! It’s 6.58am ya numpties!



In my defense it was very early, and I hadn’t had any caffeine.


Just a quick note, for those in RSS land, and for those not, although less so for you as you (I hope) have already spotted what I’m about to mention. I did, finally, update the banner a little and add a splash of colour too. If you aren’t seeing any changes, please refresh your browser (press the F5 key on your keyboard or CTRL+F5 (PC), CMD+F5 (Mac)).

I’ve also updated my other websites appropriately (here, here and here).

That’s all.

Told you it was a quick note.

bookmark_borderDesigning websites

As well as my full-time job, in my spare time I also design and build websites. It’s something which fits well with my skillset as a technical communicator, and allows me an insight into the world of development as well and has mirrored my career every step of the way.

The first company I worked for sent me on a training course to learn how to create web pages and, since then (13 years ago), I’ve continued to follow the trends and techniques involved. I’ve been through using tables for layout, to the introduction of frames, the launch of Internet Explorer and the first release of CSS.

The parallels between the theories of technical communications and those of web design are very similar, the key aim is to keep the audience in mind at all times. The way you structure and present the information is also important, as is a sense of usability of the content itself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a fairly constant stream of web design work, largely by word of mouth, and have just finished chatting with another potential client. Part of my approach is to ask to have a questionnaire filled in, largely to help me understand the requirements for the website, as well as to have something to focus the initial conversations around.

Two of those questions are:

  1. Who will be using your website? What is the intended/current audience?
  2. Does your current website meet the needs of your audience? If not, why not?

Which, as I’m sure many of you will already have realised, is exactly the kind of questions we, as technical communicators, should be asking ourselves on a regular basis.

bookmark_borderSpring forward

A small reminder to everyone in the UK to remember to put your clocks forward by one hour tonight. Officially you should do this at 1am but making sure your alarm clock is done before you go to sleep is probably all you need worry about until tomorrow.

It’s yet another sign, alongside the buds on the cherry blossom I can see from the window as I type this blog post, that spring is coming.

And that means, once again, the war against our garden begins.

Yes yes, we should’ve been out there already but in a trend similar to last year, every weekend we find ourselves at home and with free time, it’s been raining. We do keep saying that we should go out of an evening and do a few bits and bobs then but given that we leave the house at 7am, and don’t get back in until around 6.20pm most evenings then.. yeah the first priority is usually dinner.

This year we have the porch to re-varnish, the fence to paint (both sides of the garden) and that’s at a minimum. We have other plans but they constantly change and, to be frank, we are still fighting the years of neglect the garden had before we moved in.

When we bought the house the thinking was that we would enjoy being out in the garden, and sitting out of a summers evening but so much has changed since then that it just hasn’t come about that way. We’ve slowly been chipping away at the neglect inside the house but, as yet, we aren’t in a position where we could sell it without investing more money. Not that we are planning to sell up, but given the current climate I’d much rather be in a position to be able to, than be in the position of having to do more work.

So, the chore that is the garden will need to be tackled, it really must. Really. Must. I mean I should stop typing, get up and at least spend an hour or so today, whilst it’s dry and before we head through to visit family. I should. I must. I will.

Just let me go reset my alarm clock first…

bookmark_borderOne Man Tales

“Once upon a time”, it says, in that time honoured tradition of old and so our story begins.

The story tells the tale of a man making his way through life. The man meanders his way along the path of his choosing, though he is only occasionally aware that he chose it, and most of the time his travels are accompanied by a sense of carefree naivety which he happily acknowledges but secretly and quietly despises.

In this tale we learn about the man, or at least the parts of his life that are featured. We learn about his troubles, his happiness, his moments of madness and fragments of beauty. We read odd glimpses that make no sense, and delve into the infinite detail of his soul. The tale has no direction to speak of nor does it care where it is headed for this, like many other tales, does not yet know when, where, or how it will end.

The threads of construction weave tightly, characters come and characters go, and all the while the man of the story maintains. Occasionally we are allowed glimpses of what the man thinks, and the narrative arc builds and ebbs, constantly teasing us with snippets of truth, spiderweb strands of life.

The man invites you to join him in the story but warns you that even he, the main character, is unsure of what you may find. He offers no explanation or reasoning of what may unfold, and he certainly doesn’t consider his story an interesting one. All he knows is that, apparently, he is one man who is driven to tell tales.

And, with a doff of his cap, he humbly asks you to join him.

In other words, I’ve launched a new blog, this one dedicated to the more fictional writing that I occasionally post here. I’ve copied all of the posts that are listed in the Writing category here, over to the new website.