Our little baby looks all grown-up.

Thanks to Jonathan, a Shaggy Blog Stories contributor and an actual real life bookshop person, The Book can now be bought over the counter, in an actual, real life bookshop. Lookee here! Clicky the piccy to make it biggy!

Update: Here’s a very special Product Endorsement.

And speaking of actual, real life books: I shall be speaking at an actual, real life book festival at the end of June. (No prizes for guessing the subject matter.) More details as and when, but here’s what happened at last year’s festival.

“He is oh, oh, ohhhhhh….”

Towards the end of yesterday’s Official Office Night Out, my esteemed colleague and newly acquired desk-neighbour JP (page 54) told me his full job title: the frightfully butch-sounding Information Security Compliance Officer.

I so want to be his Deputy. Just for the kicky little acronym.

You’ll have that going round your head for the rest of the day, you know.
Well, I don’t see why I should suffer alone.

Media requests.

Now, I’ve been round the block a few times. I’ve been blogging since you lot were in nappies, after all. So I’ve put myself about a bit over the years. Bit of radio here; bit of print media there; maybe an occasional speaking engagement. Whenever I’ve said yes, it’s always been fun. A nice little stroke for the ego; a healthy and manageable dollop of Face The Fear And Do It Anyway; and a Useful Learning Experience into the bargain. All of which makes up for the fact that there’s almost never any Actual Money in it.

This year, for whatever reason, people seem to be contacting me more and more with what might loosely be termed Media Requests. It’s hardly a deluge, but it has become a faint but steady trickle. As a result, my default reaction has changed from “How deeply thrilling to be asked!”, to “Why should I even consider doing this, and what might possibly go wrong?”

I’ve had another such request today, buried in an obscure comment box. Here it is, with name and contact details omitted.

Hi Mike

I’m a writer for Woman’s Own and we are looking for a female British blogger, in her 30’s or 40’s who has had relative success from her blog. Ideally, we’re looking for someone who has landed a book deal. But if she had an entry in your book Shaggy Blog Stories, that may be enough. Might be a good plug for your book…?

[name and contact details supplied]

I’ve Googled the nice lady in question, and she would appear to be a regularly published journalist, who has written for The Times, The London Paper, The Sun, The News Of The World, and… oh, look, classy or what!

Perhaps this usefully illustrates why it’s best to adopt a wary approach to such offers. But hey, it’s not my place to tell you what to do, or to stand in the way of Making Dreams Come True. So if you do fit the bill, and if you’re still into the idea, then the nice lady’s e-mail address hasn’t changed.

Don’t all rush at once.

See also: Non-workingmonkey: Day 258: I Am Offered Another Fifteen Minutes.
See also: Boob Pencil: This Telly Thing.


Following an extended weekend of punishing physical exertion, I seem to be struck down by a severe case of Can’t Be Arsed-itis. Therefore, I shall be blogging in fragments.

K was working from home for most of yesterday, which afforded me a brief glimpse into the maelstrom of his professional life.

Firstly: his phone goes off ALL THE TIME. It’s a minor miracle if he even makes it as far as the loo. More often than not, he’ll be halfway up the stairs before being twanged back into the room, as if attached to an invisible elastic leash.

Secondly: he habitually ends phone conversations with his colleagues in the style of a husky Southern Belle. (“Baa-ah!“) Given that he’s not a particularly camp man, I find myself somewhat startled by this periodic transformation into Jerry Hall. Where did it come from? Are they all doing it too?

Mulching. Such a nice, cosy, middle-class, Friday-night-on-BBC2, Monty-Don-in-The-Observer kind of word. When actually, it’s muck spreading. And I f**king hate it. I was not put on this earth to fling filth at Spring Growth. All the Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Hand Scrub in the world ain’t gonna fix these grime-encrusted pinkies.

Since stumbling across it in Bob‘s Shaggy Dog Stories piece, I have developed a growing obsession with the word “kicky“. Particularly when used in conjunction with the word “outfit”.

Thus, while pruning the roses yesterday morning, and in place of the usual random selections from my well-stocked mental jukebox, the phrase “kicky little outfit” kept running through my head, like some sort of nelly mantra. I became really quite tormented. As if the pruning wasn’t bad enough.

(I was tackling my old nemesis: the sprawling, vicious rambler on the wattle hurdles, which doesn’t yield without a struggle. You could hear the Yaroohs and the Yowch You Little F**kers all the way up the lane.)

Following the debacle of the collapsed ceiling, the cottage has been equipped with an array of great big f**k-off de-humidifiers, which have to be left running for at least eight hours a day. My dears, the hum is simply deafening. I tried to cover it with the forthcoming Maria McKee album (sent to me by her PR people in advance of a “phoner”, as we professionals call it), but K’s yelps of objection effectively drowned out all of them. She’s a bit histrionic for his tastes.

(Good album, though. I’m quite pleasantly surprised.)

And then the dishwasher sprang a leak. All through the cupboard under the Belfast sink, and out over the York Stone floor. A couple of minutes later, and the hand-woven “Boujad” carpet that we brought back from Marrakech would have been a total write-off. As it is, a soggy-bottomed box of Ariel has left ink stains on the elm worktop. Sanding is our only option.

(Note the transparently insincere use of the word “our”. I can hear K’s snorts from here.)

To think we once graced the cover of Period Living! How that photo-shoot comes back to mock us! Oh, the hubris!

On arriving at The Cottage Beautiful on Friday evening, I was fully expecting to find one hundred envelopes waiting for me on the doormat, containing one hundred signed sticky labels from the one hundred contributors to Shaggy Dog Stories. Frankly, it would have been a comfort during this trying time, and the prospect of spending an agreeable evening attaching each sticker to its relevant entry filled me with warm anticipation.

Do you want to know how many envelopes had actually arrived? Can you even hazard a guess?


This is where I am forced to wag a school-marmish finger at the Internet. Success doesn’t come without responsibilities, you know. I’ll bet that the two hundred unfortunate souls who didn’t make the book would have had their stickers in the post straight away. So think on.

As for the sixty-three of you who “haven’t quite got around to it yet”, I have a good mind to stick you all under a “hilarious” Gunge Tank, in front of a video montage of weeping children, set to a soundtrack of something “poignant” by Keane. That’ll learn you.

And finally, a Troubled Diva Product Placement, totally gratis and uncalled for, because – like Joanna Lumley in the old soap adverts – I simply believe in the product. Indeed, you’ll find me quite passionate about it.


Free samples would be nice, though. Contact details are at the top of the page, on the right hand side. Or would rival chocolatiers care to try and convince me otherwise? My loyalties are easily bought.

Shaggy Blog Stories: a photo pool, and a suggested MEEM.

Until now, I’ve never been particularly grabbed by the whole Flickr phenomenon. But there’s a first time for everything, and I do find myself very much grabbed by this splendid “pool” of book-related photos. Do please feel free to add your own.

(taken by Timbo)

Might I also be so bold as to suggest a Shaggy Blog MEEM, as inspired by this fellow? If you own a copy of The Book, and if you have enjoyed reading it, then I think it would be rather lovely, and in the true spirit of our Community, to link to three people whose contributions you have particularly enjoyed. Especially if they are people who are outside your circle of regular reads. Credit where credit’s due! Spread the love!

God, I’m such an Internet hippy.

Shaggy Blog Stories: the first sightings.


Left to right: MissMish (page 152), Mike (page 11) and JP (page 54) discuss their favourite passages, at this afternoon’s impromptu signing session.

The first copies of Shaggy Blog Stories arrived through people’s letter boxes this morning. These lucky “early adopters” have received Version One of the text, which does contain a few super-rare (one hopes) typos. So if the last line of Page 198 contains the word “unsavourary”, you’re quids in.

You will also need to make one very important correction, as one of the pieces doesn’t make proper sense without it. Pencils out! Now, turn to Page 158, and cast your eyes to the bottom of the page – but please, WITHOUT taking a sneaky advance peek at the rest of the piece. You’ll only spoil it for yourselves.

Where the text says “Three hundred and (*)”, you need to add an R, thusly:

“Three hundred Rand (*)”

That was our one truly awful howler. The rest, I can live with.

Update: MORE TYPO NEWS: It looks EVERYONE has got the “rare” early version, which I corrected within the first 24 hours. Hooray! We’ll ALL be quids in!

PHOTO NEWS: Want to know what the book looks like? Dave Walker of The Cartoon Blog has the first photo of the beast in captivity.

MORE PHOTO NEWS: Here’s what two copies look like.

Update: STILL MORE EXCITING BREAKING PHOTO NEWS: Here’s what SIX copies look like.

While I was in the middle of editing this post, a DHL parcel arrived in our office’s reception area, bearing my colleague JP‘s copies. I have now cast mine eyes upon the finished article, and I can see that it looks Good. Really, really Good. Praise be!

SALES NEWS: We’ve just hit 400 sales, and we’re also straight in at Number Three on Lulu.com’s own best seller charts; just behind e-Start Your Web Store with Zen Cart, and just ahead of Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How to Fix It.


Shaggy Blog Stories: first copies to be delivered on Thursday?

I’ve heard that quite a few of you have had your order statuses upgraded from “FULFILLING” to “SHIPPED” over the course of today, which would imply that the first few copies of the book may be arriving through your letter boxes tomorrow.

This makes me madly impatient, as my own orders are still stuck at “FULFILLING”; a state of affairs which is, of course, anything but.

If you receive a copy of the book on Thursday, could you drop me a comment (“Woo! First!”) and let me know? I might then ask you a few questions about typos, as it will be interesting to see which revision has been picked up. (We’re already onto Version 6.)

I deleted yesterday’s rather lengthy post, by the way. I don’t know about you, but I thought it carried just the merest whiff of paranoid, ill-tempered, stress-induced, slightly hysterical over-defensiveness, which could, just possibly, be interpreted as “over-reacting”. Thanks to all who responded, for helping to restore a proper sense of perspective. I now intend to Rise Above Such Things, with all the lofty graciousness that befits a man in my perceived position.