Back to normal

I realised just before starting to write that I had taken a picture at the Book Festival showing exactly how blue the sky was in Edinburgh last Monday, and had forgotten to do anything with it, so I will add it in here. I thoroughly enjoyed both the Book Festival sessions I went to, despite having chosen them mostly because I had left it too late to get tickets for any of the real blockbusters. For instance, Gordon Brown was speaking about something or other that same afternoon, and I always miss Ian Rankin due to lack of forward planning.


One of my sessions was about the historic links between Scotland and Flanders, and the other was about whether professional jobs could be taken over by artificial intelligence. Apart from the fact that I could still get tickets for it, I chose the first one because of something odd that has popped up in my family history research following a DNA test I did a little while ago, and the second one because I don’t feel at all threatened by artificial intelligence. Maybe that’s because I have reached the age where i would be quite happy for my job to be taken over by machines, and also I would prefer to be looked after in my old age by a machine than by a person. I suppose a machine might need re-booting or replacement batteries from time to time, but on the other hand they probably wouldn’t feel they had to engage in patronising conversation or be cross because they’d got out of bed on the wrong side.

I am also fairly happy about the prospect of my general practitioner’s job being taken over by an interface to a vast network of computerised knowledge. This might avoid the situation that happened to me recently where I hobbled into the consulting room, leaning heavily on a stick, got into an argument about statins and, when I asked about alternatives to them, was told to go to the gym. I am sure a computer could be trained not to be quite so insensitive!

However, I feel that this may be some way off, to judge by the ongoing failure of the NHS to create a joined-up system of collecting data, as well as the inability of many people in health and related professions to enter data correctly, tell left from right, check against a calendar when working out dates etc. Of course, it isn’t just in the NHS that people have trouble with some of these things. I just feel that they of all people should be more careful with their data entry.

Anyway, things have more or less returned to normal here, which unfortunately includes the weather. But that gives me an excuse to stay indoors going through my first full edit of the current novel. This is the edit where I wrestle the plot into shape. At first it seemed as if I had rambled so much that I wouldn’t manage to overpower it, but about halfway through it started to make a certain amount of sense. This is a fairly common scenario. Occasionally I wonder if it wouldn’t happen if I outlined instead of making it all up as I go along, and then I recall the one occasion when I attempted the ‘snowflake method’. On reflection the name may come from the fact that the resulting novel doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of being any good!

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