Tag Archives: Dan Ladle

Underground, Overground

About 13 years ago I got a job as a team leader for a team of techies at a university.

About one year into this one of the guys was troubleshooting a problem with a user’s calendar and asked me to help out, by giving me full access to his own calendar in Microsoft Outlook.

A week or two later I realised he had forgotten to remove my privileges, and had gone on holiday. I immediately created a recurring event on the second Monday of every second month which simply said:

“Remember you’re a Womble.”

I then removed my access but also sent out an invite from my own account to the rest of my technicians for the same date every two months, to tell him that he is a Womble – all of them accepted without questioning what on Earth planet I was on (I loved that team).

Because of the way Outlook works, after I removed my privileges, he wasn’t able to delete the reminder. Oops!

It is now about twelve years later, he left my team about six months after this incident and we kind of lost touch a bit (you know, work, etc.) even though we were still in the same department. Since then I have moved jobs, and emigrated to Australia.

When I checked my phone after getting on the train to work this morning the self-same techie had tagged me in a post on Facebook. I wondered what it could be. The post had four words in it. Can you guess what they were?

It turns out he still gets bi-monthly reminders that he is a Womble. I suspect he will do until he leaves the university, although it is one of those kind of places where you can have a job for life!

I’m hoping he stays for many years yet, moving up the echelons, eventually reaching some kind of senior management role…and keeps getting reminded that he is, indeed, a small, litter-collecting, sentient mammal who lives on Wimbledon Common!!!


Read ‘Em And Weep

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook, follows me on Twitter or, unlikely as it seems, occasionally looks at my Google+ account, will know that for the past two years or so I have been undertaking a reading marathon of Pratchett proportions.

I started with The Colour of Magic and continued with all 41 Discworld novels, as well as the maps, cookbooks, tourist guides, kids books and short story collections. After this I started on the non-Discworld books – Strata, The Dark Side of the Sun, the Bromeliad trilogy, the Johnny Maxwell books, etc.

The reason for this single-minded readathon are numerous, I tend to reread my Pratchett collection every few years anyway, but after his untimely death in 2015 I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a book by any other author.

I assumed this feeling would pass but several months later I was still in the same mood, a year later I felt the same, two years later and I was still in my reading rut.

Seemingly unrelated, about two months ago we got notice that our landlord wanted their house back, which was a bit inconvenient because we were just in the middle of trying to find somewhere of our own to buy. Scroll on to about a week ago and the house is full of boxes as we get ready to move to a new rental. I was packing up my Pratchett collection (shudder) and amongst them I found my Kindle, untouched since I picked up The Colour of Magic.

I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I left it on top of my drawers in our bedroom. Then, last Sunday night I was getting my stuff ready for work the next day and thought “why the hell not” and slipped the e-reader into my bag.

When I arrived at the train station on Monday morning I got it out and started reading (American Gods by Neil Gaiman, if you must know!), and have been doing so on every journey to work and back since. It seems my reading mojo has returned and, with it, my brain has also fallen off a deep precepice into the icy waters of “I Have To Write” again.

Ideas are sloshing around inside my head like a particularly spectacular Formula One pile up and my fingers are itching to type. But what to do first?

I’ve been working on a few things, slowly, for the past few months, a Discworld fan-fiction piece about Rincewind; a comedy fantasy novel about a vampire; a biography about my life as a type one diabetic; a kids book I’ve been working on for a couple of years now.

All these conflicting stories are arguing for precedence, so what I’m going to do is…go to sleep! Life is complicated enough at the moment without worrying about what and when to write, so I just need to put digits to keyboard whenever I get the chance.

Wish me luck!

Terry Pratchett, April 28, 1948 – March 12, 2015

I woke up this morning as I would on any other day, alarm sounded, arm wildly flailed to find the snooze button, hop out of bed, pull on some shorts, turn on phone and head to the kitchen to make some toast. After my blood test I buttered my toast, sat down and started checking my messages, I had been tagged in a post on Facebook by my friend Ian, so I opened Facebook and went to see what he was drawing my attention to.

This is how I learned of the death of Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE.

Our cat had decided to spend the night outside, this is unusual for him, so Deanne got out of bed to open the back door and call for him. After being outside for seven hours the cat came in and used his litter tray immediately, rather than taking the more sensible option of relieving himself in the garden, but I digress.

I felt numb, but not as sad as I would expect, reading the article from the Independent newspaper. I walked through to the bathroom and held the phone out to Deanne to show her the news and as she said ‘oh no’ I burst into tears. I think that sharing the news with her had made it real. She asked me if I was alright and I didn’t answer, because I was not.

To explain why let me take you back in time to 1988. I was a prolific reader, even when I was 13, and begged, stole and borrowed any book I could get my hands on to devour the words held within. One day my eldest brother, Paul, had just finished a new (second hand) one. As usual, I asked if it was alright if I read it then took it before he had a chance to answer.

I started reading and found that I couldn’t put it down. I laughed so much that I cried, then I actually did have to put the book down in several places because I couldn’t control my body for the humorous convulsions taking it over.

The book was about an inept, cowardly Wizzard (not wizard), living on a flat world carried on the back of four elephants, standing on the back of a colossal turtle named Great A’Tuin. The magician was called Rincewind and he had been tasked with looking after the Discworld’s first ever tourist, a friendly bespectacled man with a profusion of gold, coming as he did from the Counterweight Continent. The book was called The Light Fantastic.

I finished reading, put it down and immediately counted up my meagre savings to see if I would be able to afford the first book in the series, which was called The Colour of Magic, thankfully I could and so, at my first convenience, I did so.

This is how I came to know Terry Pratchett, and how I became ensconced in his worlds and words. At first I just had to get the books, no matter how, so for a time I bought them when they came out in paperback, as it was more affordable, but as I got more and more entrenched in the fabulous places and people it started to become an addiction.

I would investigate the release dates and make sure I had enough funds at my disposal and a free morning in which to visit the local bookstore so I could get there first thing in the morning, buy a first edition hardback copy of whatever the latest one was, then spend the rest of the day in repose on the sofa letting the characters, situations, stories and puns (or plays on words) bathe my mind in a glorious warm glow of happiness.

To put this in context, my wife and I met about 13 years ago, it is our twelfth wedding anniversary and 13th anniversary of being a couple at the end of this month and I love her, and our son, more than I can put into words. Having said that, I met Terry (in a metaphorical sense, although I was lucky enough to see him in the flesh as well) 27 years ago and although I didn’t know the man, exactly, I have loved his words for longer than I have been growing hair on my face, I had Terry before I had my first job, he was with me through the good times, the bad times, the happy and sad times, he helped me cope when life was at its toughest and added to the euphoria when things were at their best.

This is why I will miss Sir Terry more than I can say, I have read almost everything he has ever written, I own a good deal of his work in first edition hardback, have a folder containing newspaper articles and short online pieces I discovered over the years, and only just got hold of A Slip of the Keyboard. I feel like I know him as well, or better even, than I know some of my closest family members.

The hole that his passing is going to leave in my life is irreplaceable. The only positive twinkle being that I have an enormous library of his scrawlings, from The Carpet People, first released in 1971 three years before my own arrival into the human race, to the final message on Twitter, which I suspect he had quite a hand in crafting. I will read these again and again, as I always have, and I will get pleasure from knowing that he would have appreciated he was making someone’s life a better one.

Terry Pratchett was not just my favourite author, he was a part of my family and I will miss him as such.

Here’s hoping Death was kind, giving him a pat on the back and offering to carry his typewriter.

A Tweet in the Dark

I am currently working on marketing Jump, and when I say working on it is a bit like a full time job. Let me outline my strategy.

From the eleven characters in my book I picked six, there was some reasoning behind my choice, as some are no longer available at the end of the book and some are not the sort of people to go around “expressing themselves” in public. For these six characters I set up accounts on Twitter, this included finding profile pictures (I didn’t use photographs of people’s faces, that might have caused some issues), I also found some images for the backgrounds and headers and got them all prettified.

After the initial account details you are asked to choose people to follow, I decided not to go for anyone who might actually know me, instead I decided what sort of things each of them would like and started adding, e.g. bands, organisations and people.

So I ended up with six accounts for imaginary people who I then needed to allow to start having opinions and things to tell the world about. This was an interesting exercise because, although some of them are a little like me, e.g. similar taste in music or technology or etc., they are also quite different people. However, after writing a book about all of them I felt relatively confident that I could come up with some interesting things to say (on their behalves!).

Initially I set up the accounts and purely logged in and out of Twitter on my computer, but this soon got a bit tiring so I added each of their accounts to my phone, fine but not super easy to cope with swapping between and responding to each other’s Tweets, after all, they know each other and have worked closely together so are a pretty close group who interact a lot, although they are all starting to build up their own group of followers.

Now though, I have settled on using TweetDeck, which is a fantastic little program you can install on your desktop computer, then add Twitter accounts and receive, compose and respond to Tweets. My favourite thing though is a function I am just trying out, its possible to schedule your messages to be sent at a later time and/or date. So far today I have found a number of different things of interest which I have written Tweets about and marked for sending between about five PM tonight and half three tomorrow morning. This is very useful when your characters live in a completely different time zone and part of the world, as mine do!

Anyway, my plan is to get these six people interacting with a bunch of (probably, you can never quite tell) real humans, then slowly leak out bits of the story, eventually admitting that they are actually characters from a book and trying to appeal to their followers to buy their story.

I have no idea if this will work, but its quite a lot of fun pretending to be an attractive thirty-something woman with an interest in shoes, or a multilingual translator, or a guy who built a time machine.

If you like you can try to find and follow them, but I’m not giving you any sort of hints so you’ll just have to seek them out for yourselves!

An Exercise in Self-Awareness

Due to the seemingly everlasting task of applying for jobs I have decided to take some steps to try and refresh my outlook as, to be honest, it can become a little tiring constantly being ignored and turned down for roles I could do with my eyes closed, welded together, then encased in concrete and sunk to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

I had a sudden brainwave the other night and decided it wasn’t my worst idea, so I did a bit of research, found a tool, then started putting together a mind map of everything I can think of to do with me!

Now, I’ve never tried any mind mapping software before but as usual finance is paramount, which is why I decided upon FreeMind which, after trying and becoming frustrated with a couple of tablet based apps, seemed to be the most simple and effective one you can get for a PC.

So I’ve started writing down everything that I can think of about me! I haven’t finished yet but am well on the way to having a pretty, but messy, synopsis of everything to do with Dan Ladle! It’s a funny problem to try and break everything about yourself into small manageable chunks, then decide which of them is worth expanding. Obviously writing is the first thing I transcribed, I’ve put down all my ideas, whether fully formed and written or just initial scribblings. I also wrote all about my music, although I haven’t gone as far as putting song titles. Then on the other side I’ve covered work and education which, at the moment at least, isn’t as fully stocked as my personal side, but I have a plan to trawl through my CV and chuck anything relevant onto it.

My reasoning for carrying out this task is that, if I have enough information in the map then when I try applying for a job I can look over the image and cherry pick the relevant experience. Whether this will actually work and be practical I have no clue, but at least it’s a bit different to just hammering out the same old words, phrases and other CV related rubbish again and again!

This is where it’s at right now, click on it if you want to see a full sized version.



Mind Map of Me

Mind Map of Me