News Round

It’s been a while *sings Stain’d* Damn. Now that song’s stuck in our heads. Anyhoo, we finally have some good news to share. After months of nothing but rejections, (think we’ve broken the world record for this in our 7 year career), our short story, Autumn of Terror, has been accepted for a Mammoth book of Jack the Ripper stories! It will be published in the autumn by Little, Brown, which makes it our biggest publication to date. We didn’t expect to be accepted, because we only found out about the anthology two weeks before the deadline, but Jack the Ripper is our favourite serial killer. In a totally non-creepy way. Our favourite book we own is a casebook with copies of his letters, postcards and the police reports. He was the first serial killer we learned about when we were kids and we’ve never lost our fascination. We watch every documentary filmed about him. Who’d have thought he would help us murder our way into Little, Brown? We should have written about him sooner. One day we WILL go to London and do a Jack the Ripper tour. Would dressing as him be creepy? We could dress as the prostitutes but we tend to trip over long dresses and we lack the cleavage to pull the dresses off. Plus we’re more believable as murderers than prostitutes.

To be honest, we’re convinced the editor is going to email us back and tell us he sent the acceptance by mistake. You know how easy it is to accidentally send a message to the wrong person. There were 34 authors accepted and 100 odd rejected. We’re always on the reject side so when an acceptance happens, we react in the same way as if the Supernatural boys were to ask us out – is this a joke? Seriously, someone’s paying you to do this, right? So far, we haven’t had that email. So now we’re worried that maybe he had 33 stories accepted and needed one more, so picked one at random from the reject pile. Or maybe ours wasn’t quite as bad as some of the others. Or it was filling a 4,000 word slot left open.

We’re the same in our personal lives too. Someone throws a missile from a car at us, or shouts abuse, we accept it’s part of being different. We’re used to it. We expect it and it’s not strange when it happens. We’ll shout stuff back, or kill them in a story. But if someone’s nice to us or compliments us, we don’t know how to handle it. Neen once told us that people in our Zumba class liked us. Our response was: “Why? We don’t speak to them.” And if we’re perfectly honest, we have no idea why our friends want to hang out with us so much. Surely they must be bored of our company by now. Trust issues? Yeah, we have a few :D

Southcart BooksSouthcart BooksAlso, our books are finally in a bookshop! Southcart Books in Walsall have agreed to stock them and the owner, Scott even made a lovely display of them on a vintage hostess trolley. We would have to sacrifice a small nation to an ancient god to get this kind of display in Waterstones. Though Waterstones, if you’re reading this, we’re not saying we’re against the idea…If you’re ever in Walsall, go check out Scott’s bookshop. It’s beautiful with lots of character and has really interesting books. It’s the type of bookshop all bookshops should aspire to be. If we lived closer, we would never leave it.

We’ve actually been working on old short stories recently, all from 2011. We dread looking at old stories because we’re convinced they’ll be crap and will need a lot of work. There are some stories on our hard drive that we have no idea what they’re about, it’s been that long since we looked at them. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ones we chose and are now kicking ourselves for leaving them fester for so long. We’ve even been entering them in competitions. One was last submitted 7 years ago!  And it only went to one competition. Another one was submitted eight times and didn’t get anywhere, so it’s no surprise why we left it alone.

At the moment, we’re editing The Devil’s Servants, our novella set during the 1649 Edinburgh witch trials. It’s sort of a sequel to our plague doctor novella, The Malignant Dead, in that some of the characters return, but it’s a stand alone book too. We haven’t touched it since we wrote it in November, because we’d convinced ourselves it was crap. It was really hard to write and quite frankly, we’ve had more enjoyable tooth extractions. But we’d completed all our April deadlines and had nothing else to work on. Actually, it’s not as bad as we remember.

The Malignant Dead has a release date of June and will be the first in a series of historical novellas. They’re completely different to anything we’ve written. In a way, we think they might be our best work, but they’re so bloody hard to write! We’ve always put off writing historical fiction, despite our love of history, because if you get something wrong, people will make sure to tell you about it. We’re so paranoid about this, we even use an online etymology dictionary to make sure that the words we use were around in that time. It’s forced us to be creative with words as so many weren’t invented then. But the swear words were :D

We’re also appearing at two literary festivals! The Salem literary festival in East Budleigh on Sunday June 21st. Yes, Rosemary Smith invited us back, despite the fact last time we got lost walking a mile up a straight road trying to find Sir Walter Raleigh’s house, only for it to rain when we were a mile from the car, so we arrived at the festival soaking, muddy and smelling of farm animals. And we’ll also be at ChudFest on Wednesday July 8th. Kate McCormick, who writes as Elizabeth Ducie, invited us after meeting us at the Salem literary festival. Yes, she knew about our Raleigh-related disaster and still wants us at the festival. So should some disaster befall us on route to Chudleigh, at least she won’t be surprised.

If you want to keep up with the latest news and releases, sign up to our newsletter. You won’t get spammed. In fact, we use it so infrequently, we never remember how to work the damn site :D You’ll find out about new releases before anyone else and sometimes we even give you free stuff. Signing up won’t improve your life in any way, but we will save you when a sharknado happens. (We’ve seen the films and have the book, How to Survive a Sharknado so we are prepared for every unusual eventuality.) We will save our newsletter subscribers first ;) Everyone grab a chainsaw!

Play Time

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsAs many of you know, we’ve been in a play – Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad by Monstrous Productions. This wasn’t stepping out of our comfort zone, this was being picked up by one one those grabbers in arcades and being dropped into someone’s else’s comfort zone. One, we’ve never acted in anything and two, we’re not great in large groups of people. In fact, it’s only in the last week that we’ve felt able to be more ourselves around people and actually talk to the rest of the cast.

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The marvelous crew. Top – bottom: Craig, Sam, Hitch, Alex, Sarah-Jayne (makeup) Hannah, Callum & Ruby

And we’ve been there since November! Bit late we know. Since we stopped participating in the warm-up games, we felt more comfortable and more part of the group. It sounds a bit backwards, but watching rather than participating makes it easier for us to bond with people because we lose the self-consciousness that participation brings, so we can be more ourselves. Though this kinda sounds stalkerish. *Adopts creepy voices* “we like watching you.” We’re also better when we’re in smaller groups, or talking two-on-one.

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Alex as Desiderata

Wednesday was opening night. Weirdly, we weren’t nervous until about 3 p.m. Then we had to do our breathing exercises until we reached The Gate. Once we were inside The Gate, we were ok. Especially when we went and sat on the stairs by ourselves :D We joked on Facebook that we were being our usual anti-social selves, but really we find noise overwhelming so sometimes find small dark, quiet places to retreat to, such as woods, stairwells, morgue fridges… Ruby, who plays the maid Sam, did a fantastic job of making us look scary and keeping us company throughout the play. We had to practise the bows and were given a 15 minute warning. As some people were still having their makeup done, we put our wigs on ourselves. We got lost in all that hair. It took us so long to fight our way free and force the wigs into some kind of submission, we were late to the bowing practice. Curse you, wigs!

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Isabelle and Callum as Dismass and Gammer

Straight after the bows, was the group photo. We were already at the back of the stage when everyone assembled. It wasn’t a deliberate ploy to hide, but when everyone gathered, we could no longer be seen. Which was fine until Craig noticed he couldn’t see us. Goddamn it. Why do people always notice when we’ve gone missing? It seriously hampers our plans and mischief-making. Though we weren’t the only ones hiding, were we, Ellen? ;)

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Director, Amy and assistant director, Ed

Craig tried to persuade us to go down the front. We don’t mind being lost in a crowd in group photos, but there’s no way in hell we will ever stand at the front. Yes we are two of the shortest cast members, but no. Richard (who played various roles) did threaten to throw us over the top, so Cat warned him that we do indeed, bite :D People who don’t know us very well, don’t realise how bloody stubborn we can be. We got our own way in the end, as is proved by the group shot at the bottom of this post.

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Lowri and Ben as Magrat and Albert Hurker

As soon as it got to scene 18 and we were waiting in the wings, the nerves hit. Luckily, Caroline, who plays Lilith is in the scene with us and she’s a lot of fun, so she helped distract us, as did Craig, who was operating the curtain in the wing Cat was lurking in. Our hearts were pounding the minute we walked on stage. We were certain the audience would be able to see them trying to break through their bony cages. Fortunately, we didn’t trip and the scene went brilliantly. There was even a startled gasp as Caroline offered the mice to us.

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Caroline and us as Lilith Weatherwax and the Snake Twins

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Zoe and Tony as Nanny Ogg and Jason Ogg

Our next scene, scene 29, could have potentially gone wrong. When Granny Weatherwax (Ellen) throws a mouse behind a curtain, we chase it. In the tech rehearsals, we nearly collided with speakers that tried to deny us entry. Luckily we had enough space and even managed to find the mouse. Each night, the audience seemed to like us scampering after the mouse. For scene 36, we came through the door by the audience. As we were waiting with Richard, who plays a guard in this scene, a member of the audience came out.

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Matthew, Katya and Luke

He looked a little startled to see three cast members lurking. As he trotted down the stairs, Cat called “surprise!” When he returned to the audience, we were loitering by the door on the inside, surprising him again. It’s fun to see how many of the audience notice us standing amongst them. The hardest part about scene 36 (the ball scene) is when Lilith clicks her fingers and we have to freeze. Our eyes burn and it’s extremely difficult not to blink. We failed miserably at this as our eyes were watering and burning throughout the entire scene. But we survived the opening night! Only 4 more runs to go…Witches Abroad

Here’s the review Wales Online wrote about opening night. And here is the one from Mithril Wisdom.

Night 2 started brilliantly – we took Cards Against Humanity backstage. We have the bigger, blacker box with every expansion, including the two new ones. What started out with four players, soon turned into 14. Unfortunately, we only had 20 minutes to play, but it was still fun.

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Antonio and Isabelle as a guard and the princess

We managed to sneak a look at our headshots in the programme before they were whisked away to be sold. We’ve been dreading them, because we normally take hideous photos, but Craig’s worked a miracle and they are actually decent photos. It’s a good job we didn’t spend money on smiley face cover-up stickers. Plus putting stickers over our faces in every programme would’ve been very time-consuming. We may have to hire him for our author events and Calamityville shenanigans.

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Pat as Mrs Pleasant

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Tony and Katya as Jason and his wife

Night 2 went really well. We weren’t as nervous and our hearts didn’t pound when we were on stage, so we consider that a success. We also haven’t face planted yet, though there’s still time. Our former psychologist, Neil came to this performance, so after our character photos, we joined him in the bar. We haven’t seen him since he retired in July, so it was great to catch up.

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Jacky and Ben as the Honorable Douglas Incessant and Lady Incessant

It was only a few years ago that Neil had to fight to get us to go into Starbucks, now because of him, we’re in a play. We don’t have many talents in life, but alongside getting lost, getting locked in places is one of them. We usually get locked in pubs, bars or even bowling alleys with our mate, Andrew, and we’ve been accidentally locked in Pembroke Castle. This time, us and Neil got locked in The Gate. We battled with the locks, rattling the door and flicking up locks on the other door, only for the barmaid to come and press a button beside the door. It immediately opened. It’s not the first time during this play that we’ve embarrassed ourselves with a door.

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Lucy and Lowri as Ella and Magrat

Night 3 was a little different. Or rather, our makeup was a little different. Zoe painted our teeth to look like we had pointy teeth.

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us and our creepy teeth

We loved them. They were suitably creepy. In the other performances, we didn’t open our mouths, which made little sense when one of Nanny Ogg’s lines is: “I’ve never seen teeth like those on anyone before.” Now we could grin menacingly. We made sure to warn Caroline before our scene with her, so we didn’t freak her out when she offered us the mice.

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Fenn as the woodcutter

When word spread about our teeth, other members of the cast wanted to see them. They were impressed and creeped out. Strangely, we found ourselves smiling more at everyone when we knew they found our teeth frightening. Before the show started, we nipped out with Ruby to get food, forgetting we were in full snake makeup. Oddly, we got less weird looks than we do when we go out normally. This says a lot :/ We once again had to fight with our wigs – the fringes were so long that when we put the wigs on, we couldn’t see our faces in the mirror to adjust them. We looked like Cousin It after getting struck by lightning.

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Meg and John as ball guests

Backstage, we were treated to a unique experience – watching Death (Alistair) twerking by his scythe in full costume. It’s not something you see every day and we’re glad we got to witness it. This time whilst we waited outside the theatre doors with Richard before the ball scene, instead of frightening audience members, the three of us practised our serial killer smiles. Despite our snake teeth, Richard won.

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Alistair as Death

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Meg as Red Riding Hood

After the play finished, we met up Neen, and her wife, Zoe in the bar. We overheard a guy saying something about the snake twins and how different they look in real life because they’re Goths. By this point, we were dressed in our usual clothes and had removed all the makeup. Except the teeth. We loved the teeth and refused to wash them off.

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Granny, Nanny and Luke as the wolf

He turned around and saw us sitting at the table behind him. So we flashed our pointy teeth at him. Rather than fleeing the bar in terror, he came over to speak to us. He said he really enjoyed our scenes and found it really creepy when Caroline pretends to feed us the mice. It seems everyone except us finds that scene unnerving. Maybe we’ve been snake owners for too long! He also enjoyed us scampering off after the mouse Ellen throws. He couldn’t believe how synchronised we were.

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Ellen, Lowri and Zoe as Granny Weatherwax, Magrat and Nanny Ogg

Day 4 was going to be a long day. There was a matinee performance for the first time, as well as an evening performance. Between performances, we made a mad dash to our favourite chip shop, Younger’s, which is in Birchgrove. Not exactly near The Gate. We didn’t bother taking off our snake makeup. At first, the boys in the chippie didn’t seem to notice, which left us wondering if we always look this weird. But then one of them asked what the occasion was. When we explained we were in a play and we were the creepy snake twins, his response was: “of course you are.”

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Caroline, Michael and Nick as Lilith, the Duc and Captain de Vere

We started the evening performance tweeting with a member of the audience, which was fun. Rules of Play were celebrating TableTop Day downstairs and it was really tempting to join them, as we were missing out on going to Counters, the board game event our friends run in Ponty. Unfortunately, the game event made things very difficult for us and Richard: when we were waiting to come on for the ball scene, we couldn’t hear a word that was said on stage. The three of us were pressed up against the door, desperately trying to listen for our cue to enter. Witches AbroadLuckily, Tony, who played Jason Ogg, was great at projecting. Usually we hear him clearly, but even he was almost impossible to hear. Thankfully, nobody left the theatre at that point, or they would’ve sent the three of us flying backwards down the stairs, with Richard’s spear tumbling after us and probably taking out someone’s eye. In the play, we can only be defeated by magic and being stamped on, but in real life, a door to the face would have done the trick. The matinee was filmed and will be posted on YouTube. We were nervous when we found out it was going to be filmed and were convinced that would be the moment we fall down the steps with our wigs skidding across the floor. Because this is what happens when we’re being filmed. In normal life, we never fall over, but as soon as the Calamityville Horror cameras start rolling, we turn in to trip hazards. Luckily we didn’t trip because we wouldn’t have been able to synchronise that.

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Dominique as Mrs Gogle, Harry as the Baron and Nanny

And no, we never did get the hang of those damn wigs.

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Ben, Richard and John threatening Granny with a terrible fate

Special thanks to Ruby, for not only persuading us to take part, but also for doing such a good job with our makeup and letting us know when our scenes were coming up. Thanks to Ruby, Zoe, Pat, Caroline and Craig for keeping us amused during rehearsals and throughout the shows. And thanks to Ellen for making us feel welcome and Nick for letting us keep the snakes :) Thanks to Amy for wanting us in the play, Ed for making rehearsals fun, and Hannah for making sure we were ok. Also, big thanks to our mum, Lynette, sister, Sarah, our mates Neen, Zoe, Tom, Amy, Bryn and Jo, our former psychologist, Neil and our zumba instructor, Julia and her two sons who came to see us. We really appreciate the support. Show week has been our favourite week of all. We feel we got to know people a bit better, even if it was a little late.

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Fenn and John leading Terrence the toymaker to the dungeon

Over 700 tickets were sold for Witches Abroad, with the four nights selling out. £3,350 was raised for Alzheimer’s Research, which takes the total amount raised from all the plays to £11,000! Auditions for the next play, Night Watch will take place 11th-14th May (subject to change). Men especially are wanted! Email monstrousproductions2012@gmail.com for an audition pack.

Monstrous Production Facebook page   Twitter

Witches Abroad

Meet the monsters

Photos by Craig Harper

Dressing Up

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsLast night we had our very first dress rehearsal for Monstrous Productions’ Witches Abroad in The Gate Arts Centre. We donned our costumes and had to remove our jewellery. We feel naked without our jewellery. Then we utterly failed to put our wigs on. We’ve had short hair since we were 8 and dealing with long wigs was a…challenge. We got completely tangled in them. And that was after we’d removed all our rings. So the make up lady, Sarah-Jayne had to help us. After Isabelle, who plays various roles, had problems too, we created a hashtag – #wigissues which we will no doubt be using a lot. With the long silver wigs and white mascara Ruby (who plays maid Sam and will be doing our make up) lent us, one thing was clear: we have very dark eyebrows. We look like bargain basement Daenerys Stormborns. Might need to use the white mascara on our eyebrows. That’s ok, right? We never wear mascara but we assume it will work on eyebrows.

We were barefoot as we’re meant to be silent. And it worked. We joined the rest of the cast on the stage floor then terrified Harry, who plays the Baron. He hadn’t heard us approach, turned around and there we were, in Snake Twin mode. He jumped :D Usually it’s only Caroline (Lillith) we get to frighten so it’s nice to spread the fear around :D We’ve bought croc effect nail paint from Barry M so our toe and fingernails will look like scales. We know we’ll be too far away for people to see them, but we’ll know about them.

There’s one problem with us being barefoot – we’re even shorter. In rehearsals when we wear our boots, we’re not a great deal shorter than Caroline. But now we’re barefoot and she’s in heels. We feel we lose part of our creepy factor when we look like Oompa-Loompas that have been denied the sun.

It’s brilliant seeing the play all performed in costume. It’s like we’re watching it for real. For our final scene, we appear through a different entrance, so during the interval, we decided to explore The Gate so we could find our way round from our usual stage entrance to our final one. You know how good we are at getting lost and we don’t want to be wandering the Gate on opening night trying to find the right door. Because you know that will happen. So we scampered off backstage. It’s so much easier to scamper when you’re barefoot. We found the stairs so followed them then found ourselves by the toilets, so thought we’d make use of them. You know what’s like, sometimes you need to go but just can’t be arsed to make the effort, but there they were.

Germophobes might want to skip this paragraph. We scurried in, only to suddenly remember we were still barefoot. In public toilets. Luckily, the floor was dry and clean, but by the time we realised, it was already too late. And there was no way we were heading back upstairs for our boots. All we can say is, thank god we weren’t using the men’s toilets for once! Those who know us well know we have a tendency to use the men’s toilets if the women’s are full or if we fail to find them. Our advice is: always make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear when using public toilets. At least we weren’t barefoot in the toilets at the Smiley Cafe on the weekend. Our skin would had to have been acid dipped.

Craig, who played Mort, was taking photos of everyone, but fortunately, he didn’t get a decent one of us. That’s because 99% of the time, we take terrible photos. We’ve also managed to escape being in the other rehearsal ones :D Either that, or Craig’s realised that we take awful photos and has very kindly spared us by not posting them. Thanks Craig, we appreciate it :) We dread to think what our programme photos look like. Perhaps we should borrow the programmes and slap stickers over our pictures. Or better yet, cover them with photos of our snake, Charlie.

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Charlie, ready for his close-up

The show runs Wednesday April 8th – Saturday April 11th with a matinee performance on the Saturday as well as the evening show. So please please please come. Even if it’s just to laugh at us looking like ageing drag queens. It’s a fantastic play and we’re not just saying that because we’re in it. We’ve seen it so many times now and we never get bored of it. Tickets are £8 available here or you can buy paper tickets from us.

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Warlock says “come and see Witches Abroad.”

Long Road to Ruin

Yesterday was the Exeter Novel Prize ceremony. We went last year as our unpublished novel, Bleeding Empire was longlisted. We had a great time and got to meet authors we’d been friends with on Facebook for a while. We were introduced to a literary agent, and then we got invited to read at the Salem literary festival after meeting author Rosemary Smith there. There was also our now famous attempt at small talk by regaling the breeding habits of our African Land Snails. You can read it here.

This year, another of our unpublished novels, Silent Dawn, was also longlisted. So we drove to Exeter to attend the prize giving. We were really looking forwards to seeing our author friends again and meeting new ones. Events like this don’t happen often and after we’ve been having yet another crisis of confidence in our writing and sales, we needed this.

Fate as usual, had other ideas. If you’re expecting our usual post about how we set off of an adventure, get lost, hilarity ensues and it all ends in a funny blogpost, you’re wrong. Very wrong. We can’t find anything even remotely amusing about this, so we’re not going to try. Feel free to try on our behalf.

We’d dyed our hair for the occasion, we dressed in our finery (well, we had to wear our old ripped hoodies because our decent ones got soaked walking Bandit), and we set off. It was all going so well. The prize giving started at 2:15. We left Cardiff at 11:30. There was no traffic, it finally stopped raining and then we hit J22 on the M5. We needed to get off at J29. From cruising along at 70 mph, we suddenly found ourselves crawling at 10 mph before coming to a standstill. All three lanes were gridlocked. Unfortunately, Pinky was a bit to wide to weave between the lanes like a motorcyclist was doing. There were no warning signs of anything. This is the first weekend of the Easter holidays, so we expected some traffic, but only a few of the cars were laden down with kids and luggage. The only acceptable things to cause this much traffic are a zombie apocalypse or a naked Johnny Depp. Disappointingly, neither were in attendance. By the time we got to J23, it was 1 p.m. We tweeted saying we were either going to be horribly late, or not make it. The prize giving only lasts a couple of hours, so we had a very short window to make it. Our mum told us to just come home, but that meant we definitely wouldn’t make it. We were determined to try. We had no Wi-Fi, no 3G and for the first time ever, we’d left our trusty paper map at home. So we had no way of finding an alternative route. And even if we did, we were in the outer lane and couldn’t have crossed the two other lanes to even take a junction off.

Turned out, at J24, there were roadworks set out. And they’d closed one lane. Our lane. They only put up signs about this 2 miles from the roadworks. Except there WERE NO roadworks. They’d set out all the cones and closed the lane but was there anyone ACTUALLY working? No. So they caused all this chaos for nothing. If they are not working then they have no need to create such a massive traffic jam on the first weekend of the Easter holidays. Their level of stupidity is prize-winning. 2 p.m came. And went. And we were still miles away from Exeter. According to Google, this stretch of the M5 should take 20 minutes without traffic and is 19.3 miles long. We were queuing for 19.3 miles and it took us a damn sight longer than 20 minutes.

When we saw the signs for our lane closing, we moved over. Also, the wanker blossom in the BMW in front of us had left so much space in front of him, at least two coaches and the Great Wall of China could have fitted. And left space for souvenirs. It’s jackasses like him that make traffic queues longer. And did he move over in advance? No. He did the usual wanker blossom behaviour of coasting down the now empty lane and forcing his way in at the last moment, therefore jumping ahead of everyone who had obeyed the signs. We hope he suffers with an incurable itch and endless mouth ulcers. But in our experience, Karma only ever rewards the wankensteins of this planet.

Once we were finally free of the roadworks, the traffic magically cleared. There were no services now so we passed our junction and stopped at J30 for the services. We were now 16 minutes away but it was nearing 3 p.m. Except getting back to our junction meant we were now on the wrong side of the road. And it took us the wrong way down the A30. We pulled into a truck stop in Honiton at a place called the Smiley cafe. No-one was friggin’ smiling. The place was closed and the toilets were horrible. We finally got 3G to see how to get back. We were about 25 minutes away. It was now about 3:10 p.m. So it would take us 25 minutes to actually get to Exeter, and we had to find a car park on a Saturday and get to St Stephen’s church. And the ceremony was most likely finishing at 4.

General Pinkinton at the Smiley Cafe

General Pinkinton at the Smiley Cafe

You’re probably expecting this tale of woe to finish with us miraculously getting there, meeting lots of brilliant authors and recanting the whole sorry saga in a funny way. But that would be the Hollywood ending and like us, Fate doesn’t believe in happy endings. We sat in the truck stop for 45 minutes in complete silence, broken only by the Silent Hill alarm as Tom texted to cheer us up. Unusually for us, we didn’t have a tantrum and start ranting. Going to the prize giving was really important to us. We’d by-passed rage and plunged straight into despondency. We tried finding somewhere to go so our trip to Devon wouldn’t be completely wasted. Trip Adviser suggested cool underground medieval passages which we were tempted by but they were a guided tour and when we feel crappy, being around the general public is a bad idea. We didn’t want to go home and every place that sounded interesting meant being around people. So we sat there and did nothing.

We eventually drove home. If it wasn’t for the fact that we had arranged to be at Tom’s for D&D night, we might still be sitting outside the Smiley Cafe. Google maps finally decided to work and took us through country lanes and small villages, which was a welcome break from the M5. And traffic was still gridlocked from J23-25 on the M5. If we find whoever put those cones out, we will peel all their skin off…no. Peeling their skin off is too kind. It will come off in big chunks, causing less pain. We will use a cheese grater to remove their skin then pour fire ants on all their exposed nerves. They ruined our weekend. We don’t get to go to author events and the one that we could go to, we completely missed because of the twat bandits who decided to fuck up the M5. And they cost us a day’s work. Had we not tried to go to the event, we would’ve spent the day working, catching up on the 5 days of nothing from when our laptop was broken. And we can’t even claim the petrol on expenses because technically, we didn’t actually go to a work-related event. We just drove to Devon and sat in a truck stop. Which was closed. So we’ve lost time, money and a fantastic opportunity.

We stopped at the chip shop on our way home. Only for a big campervan to drive into the back of us at the traffic lights. The thought that ran through our heads wasn’t ‘shit we’ve been hit’, it was ‘really?’We’ve owned General Pinkinton 8 years. No-one has ever driven into him. And yesterday, of all days, it happened. Luckily there was no damage to Pinky. The guy’s camper was a bit crumpled. Pinky 1 Campervan 0. He was very nice and kept apologising and asking if we were ok. Well, we hate the world today and wish to inflict unimaginable torture on those who gridlocked the M5, but physically we’re fine. When we got home, Cat noticed her back was hurting.  She doesn’t suffer from back pain but ended up having to stand up for most of the evening because sitting down hurt too much. It’s fine now. Doing Lynx’s back physio exercises helped. We spent the evening at Tom’s and although he always cheers us up, we weren’t great company.

So our weekend is summed up by missing a great event thanks to the M5, followed by a car accident. Screw you, Fate.  Go pick on someone else for a change. We’re done being your bitches.

Mirror Image

Our lack of combat skills are so renowned, God forced us to fight ourselves. Turns out, our reflections are as bad as we are. After a week’s break, D & D was back and stranger than ever.

The Story so far: Escape from Fuck Mountain Crypt Keepers Campaign of Error Mining for Trouble D & D Disaster Class

When we left the last session, Lord Wolfy and Cassiel had wandered off to loot a store, while the rest of the group confronted the general, who wasn’t called Pinkinton. The most competent member of the group, Vena, threw a fire bubble at the general. The world went black. And there wasn’t a trip switch to fix it.

When the blackness had splintered, we discovered we were in a dome with mirrors. It was like being trapped in a nightmare. Crimthan and Indiana saw only one way to deal with this terror – they attacked their reflections. And missed. Frank was perturbed that this was their response to seeing their reflections. The others tried talking to them, but their reflections said the same things at the same time. Although there was something off about the reflections. They were the same but slightly different. We couldn’t tell the difference between the reflections and the real ones. Vena waved at hers. It scowled back.

Crimthan attacked his reflection. And missed. His reflection attacked him back. And missed. Not so dissimilar after all. Indiana attacked her reflection and missed with both daggers. As did her reflection. Lord Wolfy had a different approach – he asked DM whether his reflection was missing his penis. He stripped off to check. His reflection imitated him. DM: “your reflection is anatomically similar.” Pip: “I don’t want to think about what that looks like.” Lynx: “like a furry Ken doll.” Lord Wolfy decided seducing his reflection was the best tactic. Despairing, DM made him do a seduction roll. 2. His reflection punched him in the face.

So we kept attacking them. Cassiel successfully killed her reflection, which exploded into particles. Vena wounded hers but was then knocked unconscious by her reflection’s retaliation, so Cassiel killed the other Vena with an arrow that severed the reflection in two. Indiana attacked hers again, wounding it slightly then her reflection responded, missing. Cassiel “Both Rogues are bad! I’m attacking the worst one.” Luckily her arrow missed as she shot at Indiana. Crimthan critically wounded his reflection, eventually killing it. Crimthan’s reflection released a dark purple light before disappearing. Indiana’s reflection somehow succeeded in her attack, knocking Indiana’s HP to 1. So Crimthan killed the reflection, which emitted a green light as she died. Frank attacked his reflection. And missed. His reflection responded. And missed. After watching this dismal fight between two one-armed clerics, we all took turns to attack. We didn’t know which cleric we were attacking but it didn’t matter to us as long as a cleric got hurt. Cassiel’s idea of throwing both clerics to see which one we could throw better was not met with warmth. Eventually the reflection cleric died so Crimthan damaged Lord Wolfy’s reflection before Cassiel finished it off.

Then the dome began to splinter. So we attacked it. Swinging wildly around us at empty space. Indiana grappled Frank and threw him at the dome. He hit it and slithered down in a heap. Lord Wolfy decided to throw his scythe so Crimthan ducked and Indiana hid beneath the unconscious Vena. The scythe got stuck in the floor. Crimthan tried to take Vena’s magic ring to heal her, but the evil amulet around Vena’s neck glowed purple and Crimthan backed away. As Frank reminded him, bad things happen when purple is involved. Eventually the top of the dome cracked and we all jumped out. To find ourselves back in the room where the general was. He was in disbelief that we were the first heroes to defeat the mirror images. To be honest, we were a little shocked ourselves. Cassiel offered him a counselling service. We didn’t kill the general, but we did break him. As he sobbed his way out of the room, Indiana attempted a sneak attack. And failed.

 

D & D are moving! We have finally set up a new blog purely for our D & D campaign so if you enjoy reading these posts, come and give the new blog a follow. It’s still in its creation phase so watch it grow and go horribly wrong :D D&DDisasterClass

D and D Disaster Class

You know your D & D campaign is in trouble when one member says “Will throwing my penis at him help?” Our quest continues. And we’re worse than ever.

The adventure so far: Escape from Fuck Mountain Crypt Keepers Campaign of Error Mining for Trouble

Players :
Lynx – Crimthan, lawfully evil Paladin with a war horse, Hades. Cat – Indiana Raine, chaotically evil Rogue. Amy – Vena Owens, evil lawful wizard/waitress. Jordan – Lord Wolfy, chaotically neutral druid who can shapeshift into a wolf and looks damn fine in the rain. Pip – Cassiel, chaotic evil ranger who keeps getting hit out of trees. Steve – Frank the lawfully evil cleric who left an orphan to burn to death and is forever taunted for it. Tom – our long-suffering DM. Also known as God.

After quelling the mine rebellion, we returned to the City of Light to claim our rewards. Only to be met with riddles. image

Lynx had a word ladder. She had to get from SLAVE to SWORD in 5 steps. She did slave, shave, share, shore, swore, sword. Turned out, that was not suggested by the internet. Their answer was slave, stave, stare, store, swore, sword.
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Cat’s was: my mother bought my armour for me one summer day. Spent every penny she had. Spent 20 and twice again and bankrupted my dad. How much did I spend? She answered: nothing. She was right. image

Amy’s was really hard: What had no beginning nor any end. What has no shadow to hide. What means eternity until death and can be narrow or wide? She got the answer right: engagement ring.
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Jordan had to join 5 points in three different lines without them crossing. So Lynx got a better bastard sword, Cat got new armour, Amy got medical supplies and Jordan didn’t get his unicorn.

The ruler of the City of Light told us they wanted us to sort out a problem – destroy the Lord White Luminous Shine in the sky. But he’s protected by four generals in the north, south, east and west. We would be rewarded generously for this. Maybe we’ll finally get a castle, if not in real life, at least in D&D life. The lord is a good guy and wants to put a stop to the Impossitanium Mine. Turned out, the peasants in the slums were terrified, not of us, but of being forced down into the mines. Indiana: “Us pinning down that child then attacking him probably didn’t help then.”
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We decided to go after the general in the north, who was in a fortress on Fuck Mountain, as he was easiest and his guards were stupid. We were confident we could take them. The ruler created a portal and we discussed throwing Frank the cleric through it. As three members of our party have thrown the cleric, Vena and Indiana were feeling left out. We decided to jump through instead. Most of us succeeded and landed just outside the fortress. Vena and Frank landed in a lake quite far away. They went back through the weakening portal and found themselves in a cellar beneath a building inside the fortress.

The rest of us walked to the fortress gate. We were given four options: dress as guards, fake a delivery, burn down the gate or climb the walls. We decided to try all of them. Cassiel and Indiana would climb the walls, Vena would burn the gate, Frank would help as he’s good at accidentally setting things on fire. Like helpless orphans. And Crimthan and Lord Wolfy would dress as guards and fake a delivery. Cassiel and Indiana ventured around the back wall. There was a moat about 8-10 foot wide surrounding it. Indiana decided to jump it. She landed in the moat. Crimthan wanted to kill the guards, but they were in the tower and out of reach. So Lord Wolfy and Crimthan decided galloping Hades was the best way to get the guards’ attention. Cassiel insisted that war horses don’t gallop. DM rolled for it. Hades galloped towards the gate and got the guards’ attention. Lord Wolfy: “We’re delivering this war horse to the general.” Guard: “What’s the general’s name?” Lord Wolfy: “William. Smith.” Crimthan: “Pinkinton.” Guard: “Pinkinton?” Lord Wolfy: “That’s what his friends call him.” Crimthan: “it’s his nickname. We go way back.” Lord Wolfy: “You clearly don’t know him well.” One guard went back inside to check.

Around the back of the castle, Indiana threw her grappling hook up the wall without attaching the rope. Luckily Cassiel had another grappling hook but no rope. Indiana: “We’ll use my dress.” So they ripped up the dress and tied it to the grappling hook. Indiana: “And we’ll attach my whip to it.” DM: “In case you’re feeling kinky on the way up?” Indiana to Cassiel: “Check us out, crafting things.” They rolled a strength check to test the rope. 3. They gently tugged it. It held. They threw it up and to everyone’s surprise, it held. So they climbed, attracting the guard’s attention, who fired a crossbow bolt at them. Indiana: “Flash him!” Cassiel flashed the guard. And promptly fell off the rope. But the guard dropped his crossbow, so they considered that a success. The guard found another crossbow and shot at them again. Indiana: “Hey! That’s not nice! You got to see boobs.” Guard: “I’m gay.” Cassiel: “Then why did you drop the crossbow? You’re not as gay as you think you are.” Lord Wolfy: “Are you going to turn him?” DM: “Are you going to attempt to seduce the guard?” Cassiel decided against it.

Frank and Vena meanwhile, were still in the cellar. Vena’s bat, Zero, through the medium of squeaks, suggested it wasn’t safe to venture out. The commotion outside caught their attention. Vena: “Our party’s arrived.” After the guard round the front failed to return, Lord Wolfy and Crimthan headed around the back of the castle. The makeshift grappling hook broke and Indiana plummeted to the ground. Another guard appeared. Cassiel took aim. And shot herself in the foot. Indiana: “Flash him!” Cassiel and Lord Wolfy both flashed him, with Lord Wolfy tearing off his shorts. Cassiel: “You’re a zombie. Shouldn’t that have fallen off?” She managed to wound the guard while he was distracted. Lord Wolfy: “Will it help if I throw my penis at him?” You know you’re in trouble if you have to resort to throwing genitals at guards. And these were the easy ones!

Crimthan tied his rope to Cassiel’s arrow (with a roll of 19) and she fired it through a window. It fell straight back out. So Crimthan made a lasso with his rope and we all took turns at throwing it up the wall. After several failed attempts, we succeeded. Indiana scaled the wall and attempted a sneak attack on another guard. And failed.

Zero explored the cellar and alerted Vena and Frank to a button. Haunted by flashbacks of being in the cavern, Frank told Vena to press it. A portion of the wall slid aside, revealing the rest of us. There was a bit of a debate how to proceed and in the confusion, the cleric got thrown into the moat. DM: “He could’ve walked across by himself.” Bit late. Crimthan tried to save the drowning cleric, whose scale mail had dragged him under, only for his scale mail to get caught on Frank’s and they both sank to the bottom of the moat. Vena, Cassiel and Lord Wolfy failed several times to rescue them before Lord Wolfy heroically stepped up with his scythe to fish them out. His scythe pierced Frank’s armpit and under mysterious circumstances, Frank’s arm was severed. Lord Wolfy claimed the severed arm as a prize.

Meanwhile, Indiana attacked the guard, who fell off the wall, landing beside the others. Indiana: “Take his uniform!” A bleeding, wet Frank was promptly dressed in the guard’s uniform and pushed through the door to convince the rest of the guards that he was one of them. It didn’t work, so Crimthan arrived to charm them. This caused more confusion. Crimthan tried to convince them he was Frank’s trainer then attacked them (badly) while Frank rolled away to safety. Indiana realised being on top of the wall wasn’t helpful so swung down, to be confronted by the locked door into the building. A lack of lock picking kit is a big mistake for a Rogue. So she kicked the door in. DM: “You all hear a loud bang.” Lord Wolfy: “That would be our Rogue.” Indiana made it in and failed with her attack. Crimthan and Frank succeeded in wounding a guard, but fortunately, Vena saved everyone by torching the guards with her fire bubbles.

We decided to hunt down the general. Lord Wolfy and Cassiel sneaked off to gather supplies, which made us suspicious. Luckily, a large arrow pointed us in the direction of the general. Anyone would think DM didn’t trust us to succeed. We came across an ornate door. Vena threw a fireball at it. The fire slowed down then crawl over the door. She and Crimthan used their knowledge arcana to determine it was a magical door. Crimthan tried kicking it and melted his armour to his leg. DM: “It occurs to you there is a handle.” Crimthan turned the handle. The door opened. We can’t help thinking we might be a lot better at this if we stopped and thought about stuff instead of going in, all guns blazing only to fail miserably. Inside the room was a man glowing as he fed power to the mysterious Lord White Luminous Shine. Indiana: “Can I throw the cleric at him?” Throwing the cleric at problems has become our default option. But for the first time, Frank decided to put up a fight and successfully wrestled his way free from Indiana’s grip. Indiana: “You let everyone else throw you.” So she tried a sneak attack on the general. And tripped. She broke her nose.

We may have failed in every attempt at D & Ding, but you know it’s a good session when you laugh so hard your eyes hurt. Lord Wolfy to DM (who sat with his head in his hands): “was this how you imagined the story to go?” Flashing guards and dismembering your friends probably isn’t how most campaigns play out. We’re looking forwards to next week. The general should be very afraid. To quote a phase often uttered during play: “we’ve got this.”

The Play’s the Thing

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsWith 5 weeks to go until Witches Abroad’s opening night, we had our first rehearsal at The Gate. It’s an old church converted into an arts centre and we’ve been there twice before to watch Monstrous Productions’ Pratchett plays, but last night we got to go back stage. We were excited. Exploring places is our thing. Not sure how we’re all going to fit in to the dressing room though. We’ll probably follow our usual protocol of changing in toilets or the car. That’s not the glamorous image of actors, we know, but then again, we’re not actors. And we’re really good at changing in toilets and cars.

The warm up game consisted of two things we’re most uncomfortable with – closing your eyes in public and having people touch you as you walk around. So we were allowed to guard the steps to make sure no-one hurt themselves. One guy did, but he walked into the side barrier, not the steps. We weren’t guarding the sides. You’d think that having been part of this since November that we’d be completely at ease with everyone and be the typical us that our friends are used to, especially since everyone there is so nice. But we retreat into socially awkward us in big groups. We know we come across as aloof, probably even unfriendly, but we’re really not, even if we do immediately go and sit on the other side of the room from everyone else :D Sorry, fellow cast members. We actually like you but there’s a lot of you so we’ll continue sitting on the other side by ourselves looking awkward. If you’ve watched our Calamityville episodes, you may have noticed that when we’ve done group vigils, we don’t speak until we’re forced to. Socially Awkward Penguins isn’t a choice, it’s a lifestyle. Though we did speak to two guys last night. About the torture of epilating. Check us out enhancing our social skills!

We thought that our inability to lose our Socially Awkward Penguin state meant we were regressing, but our MCT therapist assured us we’re not. Now the anxiety has lessened, we’re left with our pathological make-up. Which unfortunately in our case, is Socially Awkward Penguin. If you ask our mum, she’ll tell you that even when we were 18 months old, we’d refuse to go into a play park if there was even one other child in there. We’d stand outside and wait until they had gone. (Standing and staring, just like the snake twins.) But our therapist said we must see this as an advantage. We’re playing creepy characters who don’t speak, so if we were as confident and comfortable as everyone else, we would be less convincing in our roles.

It was fantastic getting to see parts of the play performed at the Gate. It seems so real now. We can’t wait for the dress rehearsals. The speed runs of some scenes were brilliant. And the good news is, we terrify Caroline, who plays Lilith, every time we walk on stage to join her in our first scene. All we do is walk on, stare and nod. See, we said we were born to play creepy twins. In one scene we get to run behind a curtain and stay there in the dark for the rest of the scene. That might be our favourite bit. We love small dark spaces, they relax us. As our time spent in Newsham Park’s naughty cupboards and morgue fridge will testify.

It’s been an interesting experience to be involved in a play, especially as we were in the audience for Mort and Wyrd Sisters, so to be on the other side is strange. Part of us wishes we could be in the audience with our friends, so we’d get to see the whole play, because it really is brilliant. It doesn’t matter how many times we hear some of the lines, we still laugh. We’re in awe of everyone who have already learned their lines, in particular Zoe, who plays Nanny Ogg – she’s been off script for a while. All we have to do is remember when we walk on. Despite being Socially Awkward Penguins, we haven’t regretted saying yes. How many people get to say they’ve acted in a play of one of Terry Pratchett’s books? A year ago, no amount of cajoling/bribery/being held at gun point would have persuaded us to take part.

We’ve started reading Witches Abroad and Wyrd Sisters and we can’t read Granny, Nanny and Magrat’s dialogue without hearing it being spoken by Ellen, Zoe and Lowri who play them. It’s strange but also nice. If you love Pratchett, come and see the play. If you’ve never read a Pratchett book, come and see the play anyway. If you hate Pratchett… *tumble weed blows past* come and see the damn play. It’s well worth the money and you’re helping a great cause, as the money gets donated to Alzheimer’s UK.

Witches Abroad is on April 8th – 11th. Tickets are £8 or £6 concessions and you can buy them here or we have paper ones.

Witches Abroad

Warlock says “come and see Witches Abroad.”

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