Colin Alcock

Verbal Ramblings.

Last words

I have just had a birthday. Another year to add to my tally and time to take stock again. What do I still do that's worth doing? Well, for one my writing has become more concentrated on short pieces, although I will still be publishing my latest novel,'The Spider Man' in a month or so, but my infrequent verbal ramblings have run their course. So, in the next week or two, the blog section of this website will disappear. When I do want to say something, it will appear on the home page, where I currently highlight new stories and may occasionally add a featured image.

All other sections will remain and I will chop and change these from time to time, as new material is produced or historic works are recycled. So there will still be a fluidity to what appears. For those who do visit the website, every now and then, be assured that I will continue to develop it over time. Maybe just a little more slowly. However, the only way for you to confirm that will be to drop in every month or so, to find new material; or as often as you like to read and re-read, or view, the current writing and images.

I may be reducing the output, but I'm not going away.

Car showroom or finance house?

Over the last couple of months I've been looking at an alternative to my ageing motor and that has meant both online research and a few visits to showrooms. OK, it's a few years since I've done this, but I was amazed at the lack of interest sales staff show in actually selling cars. I have made a number of visits where I've climbed all over the model I'm interested in and not one salesperson has approached to help (or hinder) my exploration. I've been elsewhere, where I've been guided to the appropriate model and nothing has been said about its qualities or suitability for my purposes. The sales person not even bothering to take my name or contact details. And everyone wonders why sales this March were so low.

Of course, I do realise the reason for all this. You've only to look at the promotional material in the showrooms. Gone are the technical and factual details for each model that you used to find. All you have is banners and stickers for personal finance, manufacturers' contributions, enhanced trade-in and the like – provided you take out a contract where you rarely ever get to own the car, unless you make some massive final payment. Want to pay up front? They don't really do any deals for that, you can't have your £1000 reduction, sir, unless you take out a plan that costs you £2000 over list price.

It's the way of the world. Push more and more people further into debt and appeal to those who are ready targets. The young and impressionable. Take out the practical electrics like electric rear windows, door mirrors and cruise control and shove in bigger speakers and social media connection (which you shouldn't use anyway, when you are driving) to make the whole thing a mobile beats box. Oh, and keep the costs down, by detuning the engine, throw away the spare wheel, and pretty it all up with scrub-off-in-time, liable to fade, coloured decals or a different coloured roof, which will be out of fashion by the time you want to resell the car. Except, of course, you won't; because you will be talked into exchanging it for the latest model or an upgrade, at an even more costly personal finance package.

Has the car industry forgotten there's still a good few mums, dads and aged P's who want a car that is comfortable, economic and gets you places quietly and efficiently, with plenty of boot space for kids' and grandkids' paraphernalia? Some will say that's why there's a growth in the 'every one must make one' SUV. But unless you buy a big one, are you that much better off. They all seem to have roof rails ready for the top box, because the boot isn't big enough. Still they do cost a bit more and you can win more on the finance stakes if you're a dealer that sells them.

So there you have it. Sales staff who know to the last penny how much your personal finance will cost and how many different phones you can connect on board at the same time: and not much else. And certainly no real effort to sell any cars. Just the finance, if you do all the fact finding work yourself and decide to buy one.

Today was typical. After research, I've two cars in mind. In one showroom I appeared to be invisible: in the other a salesman did guide me to a vehicle parked in the corner of the forecourt (because a new showroom is under construction), but offered no information on the car, whatsoever, and only as I was leaving the site did he mention I might want a valuation on my car. Too little, too late. And I was in the mood for buying. But not now, I may as well keep my reliable old model. Maybe for another year or two.

Write what you like …

To me, writing is a pleasure, to some it is a chore. The effort needed to produce erudite prose or emotional poetry can be wearing and the thought of rejection off-putting. But every word is worth it.

Having lived by the word, as a copywriter, I had to toil away to strict demands, but since retirement I have rediscovered the joy in writing purely for pleasure. Something I rarely had time for, before. Now, I have a small audience and don't crave for fame, with those who enjoy what I write and those who are critical. I welcome the criticism. It's like medicine: hard to swallow and might leave a bitter taste at first, but makes me a better writer in the end. (Except for when I totally disagree, of course.)

The other thing I have I discovered is the huge spectrum of writers and wide gamut of genres open to all. The Internet has been strategic in this, allowing many more to express their creative ability to much wider audiences, even when rejection by traditional publishing may have proven a deterrent. Online competitions and magazines give that extra platform for those of us who may never reach the dizzy heights of best seller stardom. Nevertheless, however small a personal readership, striving for the best is always the aim and I've come across some little gems by unheard of authors through trawling the web pages – and not always the competition winners, often amongst the also rans and unlisted, too.

So if there is a moral to my rambling, it's simple: #keepwriting. If you enjoy writing it, it will probably be enjoyed by others. being selected for publication is just a matter of someone's taste or maybe some marketing guidelines. That doesn't mean there's no audience for your work. You just have to find the like minded, whether you write simply for fun, like me, or wish to launch some academically exciting literary masterpiece on the world.

Write what you like. Someone else will like it, too.