Tales & images from life as me…

Archive for March, 2012

TIA Tales – sense of humor


One of the observations you cannot fail to make when you spend a long time in Tanzania is how very different their sense of humour is compared to those with a more Western background. Obviously that is a sweeping statement and not true of all Tanzanians, but I know that my Tanzanian readers will recognise many of the stereotypes I’ll illustrate today and I’m pretty sure I’ll be forgiven as they’ll be laughing right along with everyone else.

Let me start with the story that triggered me to write this week’s column – plus it’s highly topical as we start April this week. OK so a local radio station features a story on a terrifying murderer who is combing the area for children. He captures them, tortures them, skins them and then leaves the remaining little body out to dry as a warning to others. Pretty sick. Obviously parents all over the area reacted by wanting to ensure their children were kept close in order to protect them. Many children were kept home from schools all over Mwanza and the school I was teaching in kept everyone inside the main hall until every parent had been to collect their child. It was pandemonium for several days, and then the whole thing seemed to just blow over.

It was months later that word finally got around, the entire thing had been an April Fool’s hoax.

Was there a public outcry against the radio station? Did anyone react at all? Nope. They thought it was funny! Now if this wasn’t the majority’s perspective they would never have got away with it, so I hope my case for a bit of stereotyping is made!

So the first aspect to understand is that the Tanzanian sense of humour somewhat more macabre than what may be deemed appropriate say in the UK.

One excellent, if a little disturbing, example was told to me by a friend who looks after many young babies in a local hospital.

On one occasion a tiny baby came in with such extreme malnutrition that he was not going to survive. This is always distressing, but she tells me – without sounding callous – is easier if you don’t already know the little character. When the child died that night she paid herself for a little coffin to be made as the parents were nowhere to be found. The paint was still a little tacky when it was time for her to take the child to be buried.

The tiny box was taken to some local mamas so the child could be washed and dressed in decent clothes before the burial but when she came to open the coffin the child’s hair had become stuck in the wet paint and it ‘sat up’. The mama shrieked, believing this was some sort of voodoo, but once she’d calmed down she quickly realized this had potential for a fantastic joke. She invited each of the other mamas in, one at a time, and asked them to lift the lid – laughing hysterically every time they got a shock! Tasteless? Yes, perhaps. But here it is sometimes important to laugh at death and to lighten this very distressing subject. Life expectancy here is only 53, and everyone has been effected in some way.

Tanzanians also seem to love anything slapstick. Fall down, or hit your head and everyone will openly laugh at you! (They will also say ‘pole’ – sorry – and mean it! They aren’t being mean, only honestly and innocently amused!). One friend recently was at a night club where three muscle-bound male dancers were doing some seriously cool street dancing, and a little skinny guy was off to one side parodying the moves. She said the crowd were howling with laughter, whilst she was cringing and could barely raise a smile.

There’s also nothing funnier, it seems, than a mzungu (or white person) freaking out. If you are attempting to complain or getting frustrated with the service and you fail to remain calm it is more than likely you will raise a smile. Now, when you’re angry this can be enough to ignite a full on fury and we have no idea how funny we look. On reflection, I have to admit – it probably is hilarious.

My all time favourite story to illustrate this actually resulted from the language barrier, rather than a complaint and I was told it just recently. A good friend of mine came home from work and overheard the gardener talking to the askari – guard (I should point out that most people here have staff, it is almost expected, even the staff have staff!) – the two were chatting in Swahili “blah blah blah prisoni blah”. Her ears perked up and she grew a little concerned that her askari, assigned to protect their house, had in fact been in prison.

Sometime later she decided to ask the gardener what they were talking about.

“Uli sema prisoni, kwanini?” (You said ‘prison’, why?)

“Kwasababu ana kaa mwaka kumi.” Shrugged the gardener. (He was there for ten years)

“What!” At this stage she freaked. Totally flipped out. Repeating ‘mwaka kumi’ several times she called in her house help and asked her too. Oh yes, she agreed, ten years.

On the verge of storming out to fire the guy she yelled “He was in prison for ten years! This is ridiculous!”

At this all the staff fell about laughing, they had just realised why she’d been going so crazy… “Ana kaa” is somewhat open to translation – literally ‘he sits’ but it is used to ask where you come from, and in this case they had meant he had worked at the prison! She still hasn’t quite lived it down!

Something I’ve discovered to be universal in East Africa is the never ceasing joy of telling foreigners they are fat: “Oh my, I see you had a good holiday Mel.”

“Well, yes I did thank you, do I look tanned and relaxed?”

Blank face “You look very fat!”

I am told somewhere along the line that it was a compliment since the fuller figure is preferred by many here, but many have worked out that it gets us all in a tizz and it is generally followed by a big belly-laugh (not from me, in case that needed explaining!)

Swahili first language speakers also fail to grasp sarcasm (my readers aside of course – not sarcastic by the way!) which can further significant miscommunications. When a young kid asked my friend for the millionth time: “Is that your guitar?” and he finally responded “No it’s my bath” the poor child was completely confused.

You may be thinking it’s a miracle we can communicate at all at this stage. But I must add, to close, that I have laughed so often and so deeply with many wonderful Africans. And it’s true what they say about the African smile – I have never seen anything so full of joy and life, it is infectious.

 

Your turn

Anything you can add, any little anecdotes, are always much appreciated. Plus you know I love getting your comments.

Also, don’t forget the competition for 2054 inventions closes this week. I’ve had some fantastic entries so thanks to those of you who’ve already entered. If you want to find out what it involved check out my last ‘write time’ post and email me by Monday! Thanks.


Short story – 1st to be ‘published’


OK I know it’s not Thursday so I shouldn’t be bothering you, and I know that getting selected online isn’t quite the same as being published but this piece being chosen for inclusion is a first step! So… I thought you guys might like to read my short story ‘Diamond, Mine‘. Please do click the ‘like’ button or even make a comment on the cafe lit site so they can see it’s been appreciated (it might help me get selected for their printed anthology at the end of the year and then I really would be published!). Here’s the link via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caf%C3%A9Lit-Writers-Creative-Caf%C3%A9-Project/138022606266155
Or try: http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/2012/03/diamond-mine.html
Thanks. Mel


TIA Tales – hospitals & health care


OK so in a hospital, which shall remain nameless, there is a death every Friday in a private life support room. No one can work out why. To be fair the generator doesn’t always work (hmm good huh!) so power fluctuations could have explained it but the timing is just too similar, too regular.

After four or five people crashing, despite being attached to machines that should stop them doing that, doctors become suspicious. They begin to keep an extra eye on the room on Fridays. Finally, one doctor observes a cleaning lady entering… She calmly unplugs the machines, plugs in her vacuum cleaner and proceeds to hoover the room! Two minutes later she replaces the original plug and leaves, with the alarms all pinging behind her as she closes the door! Mystery solved.

Healthcare here in Tanzania is a brilliant subject for a TIA Tale, there are just so many insane stories it’s hard to believe, and with doctors here on strike because they are paid as little as one to three pounds for being on call all night, it’s also topical.

As the story above illustrates many people who work in the hospitals here have no training or understanding of what is going on around them, however there are those who are working incredibly hard to change things. So, whilst the stories I have to share are too good to ignore for this blog, I will start by saying that these stories of lacking resources and total incompetence do not reflect all our doctors or every hospital. In fact, I have written pieces for local magazines in the past about the amazing people who are leading the way and changing things – but they’re for another day. Right now, we’re interested in laughing at murderous cleaning ladies! Having said that, as I wrote this piece I also found it hard to be flippant the whole way through, there are too many heartbreaking stories that go alongside each silly one. So forgive me there is some disturbing material in here, and there are some serious bits this week.

OK so you need to start by imagining the sort of hospitals I’m talking about, if you don’t live here it’s a bit of a leap. They are generally huge concrete buildings without a computer in sight, just rooms of files and it’s rare that they can find yours so chances are if you see two different doctors neither will ever know what the other said. Outside one of largest hospitals is a coffin shop, I think that kinda says it all. Often people coming to hospital here expect to die. They just associate the two.

One of the biggest problems is misdiagnosis, and that’s largely down to the fact that doctors here like to blame everything on malaria! Seriously Mwanza has to be skewing the world statistics because about nine out of ten of the cases diagnosed are not malaria at all. Put it this way a friend of mine recently had to take a child to the hospital (people often go direct to hospital here, bypassing doctors’ surgeries) because he got a fly in his eye – she’s a teacher and the parents insisted, ridiculous, but still they went – they explained about the fly and the doctor’s response “No, no, no, but I think he has malaria!”

The clinics make money from the sale of the medication so it works for them. Also they use tiny glass slides to see the malaria in the blood, they then give you a count as to how many cells (or whatever, I don’t know the technical stuff!) are in your blood. Now, they’re not that careful about cleaning these little glass slides so literally hundreds of people are told you have a ‘two count’ (very low) and must take the meds – they may well have had a two count, but they were probably someone else’s!

My partner had it for real a while ago though. I was away so the poor thing took himself to the hospital. They diagnosed malaria and said he was bad enough to warrant a drip (usually it’s just tablets to fix it) so he needed to stay… They then packed him off home to bring clean sheets, food and water so he could survive the next few days! Man it makes you miss the NHS!

It’s alright for ex-pats of course, who can afford to take a few days off work and feed themselves etc but there are actually people who starve to death in hospitals, especially babies and young children if their parents are not there or are not able to provide food. One of my friends runs an incredible charity that rescues many of these babies and makes sure they do get fed and helps to track down their families and support them through the tough times. It’s called Forever Angels Baby Home, do take a look at their amazing website www.foreverangels.org – it’s one of the charities where I can honestly say that every penny reaches the kids and families and they’ve rescued hundreds of babies, finding them homes and new beginnings where needed.

So, back to the health care system (if you can call it a system) – death rates, as you may imagine, in local hospitals are high. But the hospitals have no morgue, because they have no cold storage. They insist that every body is taken care of by a family member or friend. This is carried out to the extreme that when a young girl went into the hospital experiencing a miscarriage late into her pregnancy and lost the baby, it’s body was wrapped in a blanket and placed under her bed whilst she was unconscious for two days. They simply saw it as her responsibility. It’s 30 degrees here every day. Horrific. Yet not considered shocking or strange here at all.

I recently got up close and personal with some of the hospitals here due to a broken foot. All I needed, initially, was an X-ray. There are several places that do it so we were pretty hopeful. Ha! How naïve!

First stop: “Sorry the radiologist is not working today”. Second stop: “Sorry the machine is not working today.” Third stop: “Sure no problem”. So we wait… and wait. Then we ask if the radiologist is coming today “Oh yes, but his daladala has broken down” (that’s a form of public transport here, there’s a picture of one in the driving TIA Tale I think) “will you pay for a taxi for him?” Brilliant! OK so we agree to pay his taxi and he arrives, finally.

I am wheeled, in an old garden chair with wheels attached, up a slope which must be about 50 degrees. Terrifying, especially when I also consider I will have to go down it! Anyway, we go in and he prepares the X-ray. My friend (Kate, aka Katron, a Mwanza legend when it comes to health care and thank goodness because I wouldn’t have known…) is in there and he is about to take the X-Ray when she pipes up “hand on, I need to leave, and shouldn’t Mel be wearing this protective led apron thing?” Hmm, safe!

Next step, we wait for the X-rays. They come back black! It appears I have no bones in my foot! We tried again and then decided I’d had enough radioactivity for one day, I would have to fly to Dar es Salaam for a proper assessment.

I head for a lovely local doctor in order to at least get some pain killer and get strapped up for the journey. “A splint,” he says, “we definitely need some sort of splint, and crutches” and he sends his assistant off with some money to get what we need.

An hour later she returns… with a wrist splint that is definitely not going over my increasingly swollen ankle and I’m not letting anyone try! “No problem we can make do!” says the doctor, and before I know it I have a cereal box and a whole heap of pink elasticated bandage holding my foot in place! I looked ridiculous. Oh well, it did the job.

To cut a really long story short I finally make it to Dar (having been told off on the plane for resting my foot on their aeroplane pillows!) and get an X-ray which is slightly out of focus, but they insist it won’t matter. The conclusion? Not broken. Phew!

A month later I am still in a lot of pain. Luckily I happen to be heading to the UK to renew my passport so I pop in to A & E. Yay NHS – An MRI scan picks up not one but five breaks and I return to TZ in a leg brace! Hmmm.

So, as you can imagine, everyone here becomes a quasi-doctor and self-diagnoses. You can buy just about anything over the counter here – including morphine (not that I’ve ever decided I need that! – so we often bypass the system and just opt for DIY healthcare! It’s surprising how much knowledge you gather (my safari med kit is awesome – Coops knows!).

Your turn…

Any terrifying travel traumas involving doctors or hospitals? As always – please do share!

Thanks for all your comments on the building piece, I love hearing what you think so please do let me know.

Next week – watch out for a brand new poo story!


TIA Tales – building work


In Swahili a fundi is someone who makes or fixes things. Here we have literally thousands of them, there is always someone to help, and some are incredibly talented and/or creative.

My clothes fundi, for example is a legend. He whips up whatever random item I may want made in a matter of a day or two. I have a favourite carving fundi who makes beautiful wooden trays, frames, children’s toys etc and, through setting up the craft fairs (which me and Sue host every six months here in Mwanza) I’ve been lucky enough to discover all sorts of talented people who make shoes, jewelry, soap, bags, paintings – you name it. But for the TIA Tales, as you guys know by now, it is the funny, quirky, crazy stuff we’re after. So this week’s piece is focusing on building fundis, in all their glory!

Let me explain
The problems start with finding the right guy for the job. It may well be that you have found a builder, but there is every chance that your brick layer is not the same guy who mixes the cement to go between the bricks (does that stuff have a special name?!). The electrician may not be the same guy as the one who fixes the plug sockets and there may well be a third one for fuses or whatever. You’ve made a plan for someone to appear? Good for you, but it won’t be that simple.

First, he is highly unlikely to arrive anywhere even close to on time, or even that day. You can phone, but you will be told he’s ten minutes away every time – so, not much point. And when he arrives, with three other people you’ve never seen before in tow, and sees your bright red face (complete with steaming ears and a stream of expletives) he will shrug, ignore you and get on with the job!

What invariably happens is that on the first visit they have no tools. I’ve no idea why this happens so often, maybe different fundis share sets or something, but basically they come, look, talk amongst themselves and agree to return the following day.

Let’s take the example of my friend who wanted a plug socket, which was loose from the wall, to be secured back into position, bearing in mind she had a small child it was important to get it sorted. But a quick and simple job – right? Ha, don’t be silly!

They came, they looked, they decided what was needed, they left. The next day one of the guys comes (only two hours late) and says he’s finished. Luckily she takes the time to check… because now the socket is sideways!

She explains that this is not ok, that all the other ones are straight. His face clearly reveals that he not only thinks she’s fussy but also a bit mental, but he agrees to move it back around, only he can’t do it that day because part of the plaster has been knocked away at one corner which was why he’d put it sideways, to hide the patch. He needs a plaster fundi.

Day three and the plasterer arrives. He patches up the area and they turn the socket (though they can’t secure it into position because no one has the right sized screwdriver now).

Now the socket is still loose and there is an ugly plaster patch. OK deep breath. “Can we get some paint to sort this out please,” my friend asks ever so politely. “No mama.” Is the straight speaking answer. (This is actually a step forward as people here commonly say ‘yes’ to everything but do none of it, which is way more frustrating than just being told the truth) .On further questioning it turns out that – in this country of barely any rules at all – you can only order paint on a Wednesday!

Almost a week later paint arrives. It is used to cover the plaster and the greasy hand print above it (courtesy of the first fundi) and the socket is finally secured, the right way around, in position. Perfect… Except the walls are green, and the paint they used? – yup – white!

Get wired
Actually electrics in general are a pretty daunting task in any building project here. There are endless tales of fundis finding that a short keeps happening or a bulb keeps blowing and solving the problem by modifying the fuse instead of identifying the electrical fault! But my favourite has to be solution to the mysterious lack of plugs in Tanzania.

For some bizarre reason endless electrical devices have been separated from their plug ends. The solution in the UK would be to pop to B & Q and buy a plug. Not here. Here they simply strip the wires and connect them directly into the socket. And no one ever bothers with the earth! This happens all over, no matter if you gardener is waving a hose about that morning, or indeed if the wiring they happen to be dealing with is actually in the swimming pool – I kid you not!

Of course electrics on a wider scale are a complex matter. Copper cable has, on a number of occasions, been laid by the council one night, and then dug up by thieves the next. Actually, we spend around three days in a week without electricity here and a huge amount of that time is due to mad mistakes people make – like the truck that came up our road last week, fixed the enormous holes in our road and then promptly drove into the electricity pylon on its way out!

Car fundis tangent
So you’ve gathered that precision and safety are not at all key! I’ll never forget my brother’s incredulous face as he watched mechanic fundis emptying petrol from a truck with a hose and bucket in a garage. He was muttering “they’re walking around with a bomb in their hands and if that goes up – in a garage full of more petrol and diesel – we’re all dead!”.

Actually car fundis are a whole other classic set of stories – you might go in with one problem and come out with several new ones – but that’s for another day.

Boiling toilet
So, back to building fundis. I can’t help but think of the time when Damien and I first moved into our current house and a lot of work was needed. All sorts of adventures occurred but by far my favourite was the day I finally came to use our toilet for the first time (sorry toilet stuff seems to be a recurrent theme in my stories!). I couldn’t understand why it was smoking. I moved in for a closer look and found that not only was there smoke, it was boiling hot, so much so that it was bubbling! Turned out they’d connected the hot water pipe to the toilet. I mean I’ve heard of steaming turds but that really takes the cake!

The road saga
Even as I sit here, fundis are outside my gate building our road. Now our road has always been pretty hectic. It gets washed away when the rains come and then baked to cracking point during dry season so it’s always full of holes, but just recently it got so bad that we could barely get in or out of our house. Then one day last week they came to spread huge heaps of earth and fill in the gaps. Even though I know it’ll all be washed away with the next rains I was pretty happy (except when they later knocked the electricity pylon down, as I mentioned) and for two days we merrily drove up and down our new road.

Two days ago five men arrive to dig up the road! They decided now, having just made it all neat, was a good time to lay concrete ditches. Our road is currently impassable… again!

The good bits
There are a couple of good things about being here though. First, you can always get things done… somehow. And it’s unlikely to cost a fortune… usually. Plus, you can generally either get what you need (thank you Manji’s Keys – best service in Mwanza!) or find someone who will fashion something that will get the job done.

And then there’s the miracle of Afriscaf. I can’t write about building without a mention of the ingenious (if potentially lethal) invention of African scaffolding (Afriscaf, as I like to call it). Here there are no metal poles, connecting bits (technical term!), safety platforms, ropes etc, there are only pieces of wood, cut directly from a tree. In a matter of a day a team of guys has constructed a series of levels and interior struts that literally holds up a building and enables buildings of several stories to be built. I’ll add some pictures for illustration if you haven’t seen it.

It may look a little wobbly, and I sure as heck wouldn’t want to get up on it, but points for creativity and somehow or other, it seems to do the job – even surviving the fierce storms we have (which our road does not survive!). TIA baby!

Your turn
I know that building is one of those activities that causes frustration and great stories all over the world so please, don’t forget to share! I always love seeing your comments.

In the mean time, don’t forget the competition for 2054 inventions (details in the previous update) which closes at the end of the month and I’ll keep you posted on my selected short story which I am told goes live on the Café Lit site next week.


The Write Time – Competition!!


Hi everyone,

I promised regular (but not too regular) updates on how the writing is going so this is the latest from me. At the bottom I’ve added details of the first of a series of competitions I’m going to run – I really want (and need, let’s be honest) you guys to be involved in my novels as they progress so these are may of reeling you in and rewarding your loyalty at the same time!

THE LATEST
The big news for this month is that I got selected in a competition. It’s a very small online one but it’s a start! The site has chosen my short story to feature in the ‘Lit Café’ and if it’s voted one of the best it could be included in a printed anthology later which would be very cool. I’ll post the link on here once it goes live.

Meanwhile, thanks to you guys, my Bats Blood poem is still at the top of the leader board! Unfortunately the comp doesn’t actually announce winners until the end of May so there’s lots of time for the other entrants to catch up. That means I still need your ‘likes’ so, if you haven’t done it already, here’s the link again: http://batsblood.com/2012/01/gods-and-immortals/ (in case you’ve forgotten the competition is for a poem to feature on the front of the Bats Blood wine bottles).

NEW MAGS
Right, now onto the journalism side of things: I’m still working with several TZ based magazines but am very excited to have branched out to Destination and Travel News, both of which target the whole of East Africa (and they pay properly!). They are really professionally produced magazines and I’m very excited to have cracked open the doors of their offices. You should be able to view my pieces online over the next couple of months – I’ll put the links up as they’re published.

For Destination I did all the traditional freelancer approaches in order to get a foot in the door, it was hard work and I was chuffed to bits when I got the email to say they’d take the piece we’d discussed. I was especially pleased as I managed to pitch it as a two part series, rather than a one-off piece, which is not usually the way things work.

The Travel News breakthrough was far more unexpected though… I had agreed to join a friend of a friend for drinks. We were in Dar, it was baking hot and we’d been shopping all day and I was kinda thinking perhaps I could just sneak home instead, but I didn’t, I went. Rule no 1 for freelance writers – go to everything! I now consider that lesson learnt!

As we arrived it was quickly apparent that the entire table had had a fair bit to drink (empty red wine bottles and them downing tequila shots was a dead giveaway!). We were introduced and I joined the table and accepted a glass of wine. Conversation began to flow and we chatted about Kenya (where some of them were from and I used to live) and life in East Africa, and then they asked me what I did.

I hate this question. I haven’t mastered how to answer it yet. I always seem to start with “Well I was a teacher…” Of course they don’t care a jot who I was, so then I fumble about apologetically and add “and now I write. I’m a… writer.” Mmmm. Not entirely sure I qualify just yet, as I think I mentioned in my last piece, but still, I’ve got some stuff published. The next question is always “Oh yeah, like novels and stuff?” so I’m ready for this one. “Yes, I’m working on a couple of novels, but it’s the journalism that pays the bills.” I tell them who I write for (and of course I take the opportunity to push the blog!) and the guy next to me pipes up “oh my wife writes for Travel News, the editor’s an old friend. Let’s call him!” Before I can blink I am on the phone to the editor, apologizing for exploiting his friend and requesting a chance to prove myself.

I am so grateful I hardly know where to put myself when I return to the table. People all along this crazy path have been so kind and so encouraging. It does make me laugh though, that when you say you’re a writer people automatically assume you are a good writer! I love them all for that!

Anyway, we’re discussing what angle to go for first right now so hopefully I’ll get an official commission from Travel News very soon.

Oh, and a little bit of insider info – a new Mwanza based magazine, just for us Lake-side folk, is coming out soon so keep an eye out for that.

NOVELS
As for the novels, well I said I’d offer up more on those when I last wrote an update so here’s a little bit.

The first novel is just a few chapters from completion of the first draft (that, as I understand it, is by no means the same as it being complete and ready to go off to agents and publishers for queries but it’s still quite exciting). But I’m not going to focus on the details of the first novel – which is a sort of chick-lit, travel experience that is intended simply to entertain and raise a smile – this week. You can have more on that later. For this week I’m more interested in sharing my preparations for the second novel, which is absolutely entirely and completely different to the first in every way!

It’s still early days so I’m not giving you the whole plot or details of characters or anything, but in order for you to enter my competition you’ll need to know a bit. OK, so…

THE SURVIVAL SCRIPTURES:
I guess the premise is best described as Labyrinth meets 1984. It is aimed at the YA (Young Adults) market and falls into the genre of sci-fi, but not as you know it. No robots, no aliens, no mind reading. In order for you to enter the competition, detailed below, you’ll need a bit of background (sorry, you don’t get any plot info at this stage but this should give you a flavor!), so that’s what follows here…

The story is set in 2054 and preceded by a nuclear war in 2016, which causes the destruction of large parts of the earth and the death of many, and the Decade of Disease (2016-2026) where many more people lost their lives due to a series of terrible illnesses and a series of geographical disasters which resulted from the nuclear activity. The world’s population in 2054 in just a third of that of 2012. So is the Earth’s land mass, and only parts of what remains are habitable.

The resulting civilization is one that is exceptionally hard working, has some modern technology and inventions but must grow all its food in domed tents to avoid radiation and bad water and has limited resources. There are a number of crucial facts you must understand…

First, a Global Government has been introduced to bring the remaining population together.
Second, a Universal Religion has been created to avoid war again in the future.
Third, English has been made the universal language.
Fourth, Creativity is banned. It was abandoned, by and large, during the desperate years that followed the war anyway and is now actively monitored by The General and his team and carries a prison sentence. Why? Because it is dangerous. A/ it distract people from work and they need to focus on the Government Rejuvenation plan for Earth and B/ because people begin to think in different directions, invent new belief systems, think of alternative options etc and it could result in another war.

Of course during the story Creativity must be returned to humanity and there are any number of wild adventures that occur, but that’s not what I am asking you to focus on for now.

The Competition
I would like to ask you to invent some of the things people might be using in this world in 2053. Bear in mind it must have a practical purpose – there would be no room for computer games, for example, in this world as no one has time for hobbies or fun. Consider what they need to survive and then give me the details.

What do I win?
In return for your entry, your invention could feature in the text I am working on. I will also promise an official mention in the acknowledgement section and, should the novel actually make it to becoming a printed and bound physical book (as opposed to an e-book) then I promise the winner a free signed copy!

The small print
You must be a follower of the blog in order to enter.
You may submit your idea via email (melissa@igeek.co.uk), this blog or my facebook page.
You should include full contact details with your entry
You may include a drawing or diagram if you feel that helps your explanation
There is no word limit
You may enter as many times as you wish to
If you enter you automatically give me your permission for me to use your idea, or adapt it for use, within my novel.

So, that’s it. You have a month. Please, please send your ideas, no matter how wild, silly or complex – I really don’t mind and I absolutely promise nothing will be judged on spelling or quality of descriptive language – it’s all about the ideas. I can’t wait to see what you think up.


birds n butterflies n stuff from a lovely weekend