Thursday, 24 March 2016

Two posts in a day! A first on this blog.

The Dreaded Chamber of Dr McGunnigle 

I have been under a great deal of pressure recently. Can you imagine being cooped up in something like a space capsule for hours on end, with five other people, all crammed into a 20 ft by 6 ft space? 
     Space, did I say? They have more space in a spaceship, for goodness' sake! Not only that but we were forced to change into drab cotton garments and plastic shoes. I am reminded of my time in Her Majesty's Prison at Craiginches – but that's another story. 
     Once in this cramped environment, we had to wear the most unbecoming headgear you've ever seen, a clear plastic dome which fits on to a large rigid ring that encircles your neck like a slave collar. We looked like a troop of the latest ridiculous creatures to invade children's television – the Minions. 
     The final indignity was being hooked up to flexible tubes which pumped gas into the hoods to infiltrate our lungs. For a moment I panicked, dreading the spidery fingers and tentacled probes of alien scientists exploring our bodies.  
     There was no escape. The heavy metal door clanged shut, sealed tight by the relentlessly increasing air pressure. The pressure built and our ears were popping like corn on a red-hot griddle.  The torture didn't stop until we were at a virtual forty feet of pressure below the sea – or “full fathom six point six recurring” as Shakespeare might have put it. 
     We settled down, some reclining, some sitting. The ear-popping stopped; the gas we breathed was oxygen - 100% compared with the 20% of normal atmosphere. Most people brought a book to read. Some tried to chat but it wasn't easy from inside a clear plastic upside-down dustbin. A nurse was there with us to deal with any problems. 
     The final task was to
     To be serious, which never comes easy, I was there for four weeks of daily treatment simply to revive and rejuvenate my radiotherapy-raddled jaw, so that I could undergo a little surgical procedure, the extraction of a couple of teeth. The oxygen-under-pressure experience would help the healing. 
     I wasn't reading like the others; I was writing.  
     I've been on an online course run by the Open University. It's called “Start Writing Fiction” and it's free. They have hundreds of fascinating courses covering a huge range of subjects. Now I'm looking hungrily at one called  “Screen Writing”. 
     Two and a half hours of writing time, with minimal interruption. What more could a scribbler ask? One day I made notes for a story to post on the OU course website and even got the story started. The next day I finished it, then typed it up at home. No laptops, phones or any other techy stuff is allowed into the chamber.  In the last week I finished chapter 13 of my novel, wrote 14 and started on 15.
     "Working under pressure" is not usually seen as a positive phrase but this experience will help me improve my novel, get it finished and get it published. 
     Guess what? One of my problem teeth fell out this morning!
     How's that for a result?