Sunday 16 September 2012

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

In four weeks time I will be huffing and puffing my way around my capital city, running just over 13 miles in the Cardiff Half Marathon. This will be the fourth half marathon that I have run, the first two whilst in my late teens (and much slimmer) and the third in the same event last year. My training schedule was carefully planned this year, unlike last, aiming to take a huge chunk off the two hours and eighteen minutes it took me then. I even had wild thoughts that I might go under two hours and even more insane dreams that I could eclipse my best time of one hour and thirty-five minutes set aged 19.

Tomorrow I turn 47, so I guess that you can see the level of my insanity. But if I can't hope and dream then how can I live, how can I write? If I can plan and stick to a strict training schedule, then who knows what I can accomplish? Alas, a back injury (an acute episode of a chronic problem) has enforced seven weeks of inactivity, but I remain upbeat and will still give it my best shot.

In planning my schedule, I took into account my work and family commitments and allotted set times to train. I downloaded an app which used GPS to monitor my performance. This year I was so much more organized than the random efforts of last year and then I realized that my running and writing paths were parallel, almost identical roads.

My first novel, The Legend of Finndragon's Curse, was a naive, almost haphazard writing journey, but I had the self-belief and strength of mind to get it done.

This year I have written the follow up book, learning from my first disorganized effort, planning periods of writing activity and word targets. Then a lengthy period of writer's block mirrored my back problems, although these tribulations weren't linked or simultaneous. The similarities don't end there, for both writing a novel and running long distances require a steely determination to finish the job.

Surrounded by thousands of others with a common goal, I can remember the encouragement and support of runners and spectators without which I might well have fallen by the wayside on the streets of Cardiff. Now, I feel extraordinarily lucky to have found a community of like minded writers and eager readers who are willing to share their acquired knowledge and experience. They offer advice without expecting anything in return, using up valuable time out of their busy schedules to do so.

So I thank you all as I realise that we are not alone and I will try to return the favours tenfold.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Living Life On The Hedge

Last week some bloke knocks on my door while I'm at work and offers to trim my unruly hedge. Tells wife it will cost £70. Obviously she turns him away.

Sunday is spent scouring the internet, countless google searches and visits to price comparison sites and I finally arrive at the Argos website. After an hour comparing prices and specifications I reserve a cordless hedgecutter for just £43.99.  That's a whopping £26.01 less than the seventy quoted, I'm on a winner here, methinks. Saving already and an investment for the future.

Monday morning I drop kids off at school and head straight to retail park and collect. I've three days off from the day job, the sun is shining. Great. Before I can start I have an appointment with the chiropractic student at the University of Glamorgan for my regular torture session. Can't beat a bit of manipulation of the cervical, thoracic and lumber spine (that's upper, mid and lower back if you're not medically au fait - Oh dear I'm sounding a bit pretentious here!). So I put the 14.4 volt battery on charge and off down the A470.

I would just like to point out that if you have any spinal problem, or joint pain, or any other kind of physical problem, you could do a lot worse (and spend a lot more money) than go to the Uni for treatment. Phone 01443 348 555 if your interested.

On returning home I carry ladder down two flights of stairs, I insert battery into new gadget, apply SPF 6 (might as well turn my utterly pale complexion a little brown) and head into the garden in a pair of Trespass sports sandals (no socks of course) topless and wearing black shorts. I meander to the bottom of the garden and peak over the fence at next doors perfect hedge, which is at least four feet lower than mine.

I start at the boundary, taking the height of next doors' as a guide and merrily start trimming away, cutting the sides first, as instructed in the manual, which I had surprisingly decided to consult before commencing. I did about a third of the hedge (about 8 yards), and realised that next doors perfection was way out of reach for a novice like me. I then went back to the start, climbed the ladder and started trimming the top. The hedge is far to broad to reach all the way across the top, and I realise that I will have to tackle the top outer part from outside when I'm trimming the side outer part. If I'm getting too technical here, then please accept my sincerest apologies.

Well I haven't gone more than three or four feet when something catches my eye. I stop trimming and take a closer look. Nestling just a couple of inches from where I had trimmed the side, and about a foot higher than I had started trimming the top; inside the hedge was a very small birds nest. I climb a little higher and pull back some of the branches to inspect my discovery. This nest would have been too deep inside the thick hedge to be inhabited I thought. It must have long since been abandoned by any previous tenant. Surely! Wrong! I was greeted by the open mouths of four tiny little chicks. Please don't ask me what species, I'm not David bloody Attenborough, am I? But at a wild guess, and as far as wild guesses go this is completely untamed, I'd say sparrows. Maybe you can tell me?

How can I continue to cut on the same line now? There would be four little birdies homeless and easy prey for any would be predator, or wild shots at goal from 4 year old son. So feeling proud of myself in the fact that I'm doing my bit for wildlife preservation, I leave about a foot of hedge above the nest and continue on this line. Bill Oddie would think I'm a goody, for sure!

About half way down the hedge the trimmer stops trimming, getting stuck on even the thinnest twigs. So I stop work and put battery on charge. Manual says 3-4 hours should do it. So 3 hours of pottering about, collecting cuttings and putting into garden refuse bags. What's this? Printed on bag 'small amounts of cuttings only.' Now I pay my council tax, well I didn't for a while, but I do now. Part of that is for collecting refuse and recycling isn't it? Why can't I put as much garden refuse for recycling out as I like? Should I put some out and the rest into the rubbish bin? Would that just go to land fill and exacerbate global warming? Why am I asking so many questions? So I fill eight bags and pile the rest up in the corner, or shove it underneath some parts of the hedge.

After three hours charging, I can't wait any longer and get back to work, after picking kids up from school. I manage to cut most of the other half when the battery goes flat again. So I stop trimming for the day. I try to organise the kids into an (unpaid) work gang and get them collecting all the cuttings, well they are closer to the ground than me. And they don't have bad backs. But I end up doing most of the work as usual.

This morning I again take the kids to school, and then straight back to work. I finish the inside of the hedge and then move to the outside. The battery lasts a bit longer after a full charge and I get halfway down the outside. Gather up the cuttings and use the leaf blower to pick up the smaller bits. I have to clean out the blower every three minutes due to the amount of rubbish it picks up. Bloody litter bugs!

So now I'm sitting here, telling you all about it. Well I think there may be two of you reading this - thanks Rob for following my blog, and Sian, if she hasn't got bored by now. If anyone else is still with me at this point, please become a follower so I know that it's all worthwhile.

I'm mentally preparing for the final phase of the job. Physically I'm knackered. My back, neck and shoulders are very sore and my right wrist aches so much that you'd think I'd been going solo for two days solid. Another half an hour and the battery should be charged, and an hour after that, finito! Except when the chicks have flown the nest, I'm going to have to try to level the whole thing off as there is not even a hint of a straight line anywhere along the whole length of the hedge.

Sunday 9 September 2012

What's Happened To Our TV

Help! I can't take it any more. My head is going to explode soon if it doesn't stop.

What's he banging on about now, you may enquire? Well I'm going to tell you straight, so don't blame me if you're offended because you asked for it. Lowest common denominator TV has been around for a long time now and we are drowning in a vast ocean of utter dross. Creativity has been jettisoned and good shows marooned as peak time TV schedules become swamped with more and more copycat productions.

Big Brother - what an utter waste of time. Even though I've seen less than an accumulative 46.29 seconds when I've inadvertently hit the wrong channel, I feel overly qualified to express an expert opinion. It's absolute drivel - mindless morons watching mindless morons desperately behaving like vacuous morons, hoping for fame and fortune.

Okay, maybe I've over used the word moron, but it's a little word which describes perfectly these moronic little people.

I can manage to avoid: the X-Factor, BGT (that's Britain's Got Tw*ts), Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing On Ice, I Am Not/Was Years Ago/Never Have Been/Would Like To Be/Know Someone Who Is/Was/Once Slept With Someone Who Met A Celebrity. And don't forget all those Andrew Lloyd Webber offerings of unadulterated crap. The list is almost endless in the UK and I'm sure acroos the world. You can also add the unending daily menu of Soaps too.

Given the choice of watching 30 seconds of any of the above, or standing upside down with my head submerged in the blocked Gents WC of the Vulcan pub, with everyone urinating on my face on a Saturday night for 30 minutes, I'd chose the latter every time, in the blink of an eye.
No contest.

In fact I've bought a Crap Detector off eBay which plugs into my TVs HDMI socket. It's a great gadget which detects the inane drivel and automatically changes the channel to Sky Sports. This also really irritates wife. Double whammy, Result!
A bargain at £199.99!

So why is my head going to explode, you may ask, when I don't actually watch any of this drivel?

Well I have to suffer something much worse, something more excruciating and unavoidable than sitting in front of the TV, watching this rubbish. Something so bad that I have to switch off my kindle as there is no way that I can concentrate on the latest book that I'm reading.

I have to sit on a minibus the next working day and listen to the rehashing of last nights drivel highlights for up to 2 hours. Up to ten cackling would-be TV critics fighting to have an opinion in a cacophony of caterwauling. Complete torture that not even the SS at their worst would have had the stomach to inflict. No Crap Detector, no off switch and no way out. HELP!!!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Writing Ghosts

I'm currently reading Jeff Bennington's The Indie Author's Guide To The Universe, wishing like crazy that I could turn the clock back nine months. If I had read this excellent book back then, I surely wouldn't have published The Legend of Finndragon's Curse when I did. But that's not the reason why I'm writing this post. No, I'm writing this post because of something Jeff wrote which has triggered a memory of a strange event in my life. He has written a chapter entitled 'How Ghosts Have Helped My Writing Career' and this brought back an old memory for me. This is my very own ghost story.

I was 22 years old and had just moved back to the family home, after a couple of years spent living in the nurses accommodation at the hospital where I had been studying. On returning home I was given the downstairs bedroom that had been my grandmothers room until she had died three years before, aged 86. Nan, as we all called her, had moved in when she became too frail to continue living alone. Over the last few years of her life she had suffered with crippling arthritis and was virtually blind due to glaucoma. If that wasn't enough, she had also had several Transient Ichaemic Attacks (TIAs) or mini-strokes as they are sometimes known.

In spite of all of her problems, Nan's mind was still as sharp as ever. My earliest recollections of her were the wonderful days before I started school when she would come round to our house and babysit me when my parents were at work. My favourite game was inspired by Richard Greene's Robin Hood from the old television series. Nan was always Maid Marion and of course I was my eponymous hero. Armed with a coat hanger for a longbow, together we fought off the ominous threat of the Sheriff of Nottingham on a daily basis.

A few years later, during the early 1970's, Britain was gripped by a miners strike that threatened to cripple the country, which at the time was almost entirely dependent on coal to fuel the power plants. Such was the scale of the crisis that the Government had to introduce power cuts which blacked out the whole country every evening. Strangely enough, those were some of the happiest days of my life as the family gathered together to entertain ourselves.

The loss of TV, at that time we had the grand total of three channels to choose from, meant that we resorted to traditional parlour games to keep ourselves amused. We had such fun playing charades by candle-light and even put on some improvised musical extravaganzas and plays, which in my rose-tinted memory would have graced any West End or Broadway stage. Nan was a maestro on the piano even though she couldn't read a note of music and composed her own tunes complete with lyrics. She also knew every song that had been sung in the old music halls, or so it seemed and had the inventive mind of a poet, often penning witty or poignant verses.

Such simple entertainment that has sadly been lost to the vast majority of the children of the digital age. The Von Trapp Family we most certainly were not, but my four siblings and I, complete with Mam and Dad and of course Nan, didn't care one iota. We raised the rafters night after night as the show went on and on.

So now, some 13 or 14 years later, here was I sleeping in the room which had been her last. Not long after I moved back, Mam came into my room as I sat on the bed writing. She looked at the small pile of A4 handwritten paper by my side and asked what I was doing. She was somewhat taken aback when I said that I was writing a poem.

During my time living at the hospital, I had started to put my thoughts and feelings into verse. I didn't consider myself a poet, just someone who wrote the occasional poem. As a guy in my early twenties, I hadn't broadcast to the world or even my closest family that I was writing. At the time I worried that people might think that poetry wasn't a manly pastime. Each weekend I was flinging my body into the physically violent arena of rugby union. Shortly after my 21st birthday I had suffered a triple fracture of my lower leg and ankle as well as a dislocation. It had taken two operations to put my broken leg back together and it was during the 16 weeks of recuperation and rehabilitation that I started to write.

The only person who knew about my writing was my flat mate John. He was a fellow student nurse and a born again christian, who perhaps subconsciously influenced a few of my poems with his beliefs. I somehow felt comfortable in letting John into my own little world, perhaps searching for some sort of approval. My poems consisted of feelings of despondency and gloom when my predicament dragged my mood down and love and hope when it bounced back up again. They were almost without exception simple poems depicting material things; nothing too deep or abstract. The scribblings of someone barely out of his teens.

Now Mam was the second person to learn of my word lust. It took her a moment to take in what I had just disclosed and then she asked if I could do something quite unexpected. "Can you complete the last poem that Nan was writing?" she asked hopefully. "She told me the first two lines before she died and I remember them well." Then she proceeded to tell me what the lines were:.
"Standing on the mountain top,
Master of all I survey."

"Well... I can try," I responded, wondering how on earth I could finish Nan's final creative piece of work.

As I spoke, Mam had picked up the pile of hand written poems and was flicking through, or more like shuffling the loose papers in her hands when she suddenly froze. I saw her eyes fill with tears and it seemed like several minutes passed by as she read a random page. Finally she tried to speak, but for a moment no words were forthcoming, "'ve already done it!" she managed to find her voice again.

"What do you mean?" I asked, puzzled by this statement.

She passed me the poem that she had somehow picked from the middle of 30 plus sheets and pointed out the first line. It was word for word the first line that Nan had composed, but the second line was not the same.

"Now look at the first line of the second verse," she instructed.

I did as she asked and was surprised to see that this line was remarkably similar, although not identical, to Nan's second line. We looked at each other and my eyes filled up as quickly as hers and tears ran down both our faces. I don't think that either of us spoke for some time as we both tried to comprehend what we were reading. In my mind I thought that this was just some almost unbelievable coincidence, but I knew that Mam didn't think so. She was convinced that somehow, by means that she couldn't ever understand, that Nan had channelled her words through me.

Now I'd had a fleeting paranormal experience one night-shift whilst on duty at the hospital, (amazingly my brother who now works at the same hospital, had an identical experience only last year, some 25 years after mine) but this is not the time to talk about that. So my mind wasn't closed to Mam's insistence, but I have to say that I was extremely sceptical.

However, after reading through the whole poem for the first time since I had put pen to paper, my scepticism began to soften. The style was unlike mine; there was nothing truly concrete in the text. I could remember writing it and at the time not knowing what I was trying to say or what I was feeling; I had written a poem that I didn't even understand myself. So I read it again and again and gradually I could see my Nan in the words on the page. I struggled to believe what I was now reading; could this be a description of the moment of her passing from this world into the next. I had even left two lines between the verses at that exact moment.

By the time I had come to this conclusion, sitting in the room where Nan had spent her last years, on the bed where she had laid her head, I felt an inner peace. The poem was uplifting, describing her release from suffering and being set free. I know that there will probably be more sceptics than believers in a story like this, but the comfort that it brought to my mother and to myself can't be underestimated.

You can read the poem, if you wish, which is produced below. Nobody outside of my family or closest of friends have read it, but today the time has come for the world to read Marie Louise Williams' last poem.

God bless you Nan.

Lonely Shadows

Standing on the mountain top,
I watch the shadows flee,
Hypnotised by the rising moon,
That beckons out to me.

Surveying all before me,
Blind, I Cannot see,
The apparitions of the night,
Sent to capture me.

An Armada of thoughts fill my eyes,
I know I am not free,
I stare into a shroud of darkness,
Is this the end of me?

Standing at the waters edge,
Gazing out to sea,
Mesmerised by the white crested waves,
Rushing in for me.

Surveying all before me,
As far as I can see,
Moonlight dancing on the skipping waves,
Reaching out to me.

An army of waves reach the shore,
Coming to set me free,
To release me from this evil world,
They take me out to sea.

And as I quietly slip away,
The last entry to my mind,
Is the tranquil radiance of your smile,
The love I’ve left behind.

Sunday 2 September 2012

The Story of my Story

It's over twelve months ago that I completed my first manuscript. To say that I was naive would be quite an understatement. I thought that all I had to do was find an agent, or if that failed a publisher.

Now I'm not a salesman and have no marketing background whatsoever. Twenty-seven years ago I became a student nurse and have worked as a nurse in a wide variety of roles ever since. So with the aid of google I started trying to find the information that i needed to submit my work. I approached two agents and two publishers who I thought might be interested in The Legend of Finndragon's Curse, book 1 in the series 'Tales of Finndragon.' Three took a while to respond and each let me down in a cold and unemotional way. Only one offered me any hope; a small independent publisher thanked me for the submission and said that they would get back to me within three months.

So I sat back and did nothing, waiting for their email. Self-doubt was starting to take a grip over me; who would want to read a book by an unknown writer set in the small Principality of Wales? The country of my birth, and where I have lived my entire life, which is little known outside of Europe, apart from in Rugby Union playing nations. Who would want to read a fantasy that involved an ancient legend and three siblings looking for their father, who has somehow found his way into the 6th century kingdom?

I had more self-doubt than the most unconfident person in self-doubt city as I wondered who would want to read work by someone who's writing education consisted of some never-to-be seen poetry, nine spoof work-place magazines lampooning my colleagues and a previous failure to see an earlier novel go beyond 20,000 words? Oh and bawdily rewriting the lyrics to some well known tunes in order to entertain a few friends at the local club and a couple of old blogs which were seen by a handful of people. Not exactly the resume of a successful auhtor!

More than three months went by and no further communication from the publisher re-affirmed my belief that my novel wasn't up to the mark. You might think that I was giving up easily, but despite all of my doubt I wasn't yet ready to throw the towel in. It had taken me about fifteen months to write the book, squeezing in words around my work, family and social commitments. The self-doubt had seen a complete cessation of the book span some six or seven months, before I decided that I was going to finish it come what may. And that's just what I did.

A friend at work had mentioned Kindle books on a few occasions and one day he brought me a magazine and opened it to an article entitled, 'How I DID sell a million,' by John Locke who explained how he had sold that many ebooks. So I started re-formating my book for Kindle, but I still doubted that I could come anywhere near to replicating his success.

He talked about social media being a tool to promote himself and his work as well as a blog and a website. After the earlier failure of my blog and with only a hundred or so friends on Facebook I didn't think that I was about to set the world on fire. With no marketing budget and no idea how to design a website, I stumbled my way along an unfamiliar path.

A friend of a friend's student son designed a book cover for me and as I looked for the email bringing me the final version, I was stunned to find an new email from the small publisher. Five months had passed since their last message and I opened it to the amazing offer that they would like to publish my book, pending review of the full manuscript, if I was still interested. I sent an email back immediately re-affirming my interest, but also expressing my desire to go ahead with the Kindle version, which they agreed to.

That was last December and I have had an offer of a publishing contract which I asked to be revised on the advice of the agent of a school friend, Anthony Bunko who has had several successful books published. My publisher has applied to the Welsh Book Council for a grant to help with the cost of printing, which was declined. We are going to reapply in November following some minor re-editing, but they assure me that whatever the outcome, they will go ahead and publish the book.

I have persevered with the ebook version, but sales have been slow to say the least. I've tried a few KDP Select promotions, but failed to get the word out to a large enough audience. I managed to get an article in the local newspaper which briefly stimulated some interest, but it is only now that I am getting to grips with the fundementals of promoting and marketing my book. I know that I still have a lot to learn and that I'm still on the foothills of a steep learning curve, but the self-doubt has been slowly eroded.

I have written the second and final part of the series in half the time that it took to write the first and I am very pleased with how it has panned out. It is currently being read by a small group of beta readers before I have it ready for publication. I have also written a guest post which is going out on September 12th on Bestsellerbound Recommends and I'm soon to be featured in an Author interview on Flashlight Commentary blogspot.

I have expanded my network on Twitter and have recently become a member of goodreads. This past year or has been a hard year for me, but now I feel much better equipped to further develop my writing career. I have just started reading The Indie Author's Guide To The Universe by Jeff Bennington, which I am sure will give me even more tools on the road to success. I have two other novels that I intend to write side by side, and I am hoping to start reviewing books of fantasy on my other blog, Gwayne's Box of Tricks, giving my fellow Authors some much needed exposure. Yes it's been a hard year or two, but a most enjoyable roller coaster of a ride. Bring on 2013, I can't wait!

Monday 23 August 2010

Time Gentlemen Please

The time of your life.
Let the good times roll.
It’s better to burn out than to fade away.
If I had my time again.
Time waits for no man.

An infant cannot understand the concept of time. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, et cetera.

A teenager thinks that a twenty-something is a relic of a bygone age and a twenty-something thinks that he is indestructible.

By the time you reach your forties, you are attending more funerals than weddings and you finally become conscious of your own mortality.

Sadly, by letting the good times roll, whilst having the time of their lives, many drink, smoke and eat themselves to death before they emerge into middle aged wisdom.

However, whilst they are burning away, many carry a torch that illuminates the dark recesses of our memories, long after the flame fades away. A light so bright that we can still warm ourselves on a cold winter’s night with the one hundredth telling of the time that….

With the benefit of hindsight would we all do things differently? Would we lose the spontaneity, the spark that first set the torch burning and would our world be the colourful place that it has been? Or would we have nothing but an old blanket to warm us through our winter years?

As I approach my forty-seventh birthday, I have to pay homage to the most dazzling of my contemporaries, who burnt out eleven years ago after burning brightly for forty-two years.

And as time waits for no man, I must chronicle some of the good times before my flame fades away. I apologise if I omit any details - I wasn't completely sober most of the time in those days.

Please add comments. Fill in the blanks or tell your favourite story about Fletch.

To the one and only Gerald Fletcher, put a pint over the bar, I’ll catch you later.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Do You Love Sport?

Do you love sport? Are you totally fed up with Britain's pathetic performances in recent Olympic games? Do you despair at the thought of yet another useless showing in 2012? Well I can exclusively reveal that Team GB has a more than cunning plan to ensure that the Union Jack is regularly run up the pole in London.

I have today seen a top secret document from the Ministry For Sport, that Whitehall top brass wanted to keep under wraps until the last possible moment. My ministerial mole has provided me with a copy of an email to David Cameron from the Minister For Sport, Hugh Robertson, outlining how Britain can win a plethera of gold medals and ensure our place at the top of the medal table.

Hugh Robertson sets out his priorities.

The email reveals how the International Olympic Committee allow the nation hosting the Olympic Games to include some additional events and my mole tells me that Robertson has played a master stroke in proposing the following list of athletic disciplines:
1. The Egg and Spoon Race
2. The Sack Race
3. The Three Legged Race
4. The Climbing Through Hoops and Getting Dressed Race
5. The Morris Dancing Race
6. The Pancake Race.

All these events will be over 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, 1,500 metres, 3,000 metre steeplechase, 5,000 and 10,000 metres, as well as various relays, and will be for both the men and women.

Team GB has years of experience in all of the above events, as school children for generations have strove for excellence each July, and it is likely that we will have a clean sweep of all the medals.

Other strange events. Cheese rolling, Toe Wrestling and Bog Snorkelling are also firm favourites

Another likely event is the Council Estate 4 by 400 metre relay where teams of four have to carry a 22 inch TV as the baton.

In addition, Robertson is also advocating the inclusion of some additional boat races. Namely the Nine Man Alcoholic Boat Race. I can reveal that this event will consist of eight teams of nine men sitting facing the back of their nearest team mate. On the opening bell the first man has to drink a yard of ale, which is rumoured to be the real ale favourite Old Peculiar. On emptying his glass, each competitor has to place the upturned vessel on his head before the next team member can drink his yard. The winning team is the first to complete the whole nine yards. The team who finish last in each leg has to buy the next round. In the event of a dead heat, the team with the driest heads will be deemed the winner. Should any member vomit before all nine yards have been drunk, his team shall lose that leg.

The event will be in a knock-out format, the first two rounds consisting of a best of three races, the quarter-final and semi-final will be the best of five and the final the best of seven. Each country can enter a squad consisting of no more than eleven drinkers, with any nine competing in each round. The event will be completed in its entirety in one day. Rounds one and two will take part in the morning session, the quarter and semi-final in the afternoon session and the bronze medal play-off and final in the evening session.

I can reveal that one event that won't be appearing in 2012 is the broom race, as it has been deemed to dangerous. This is a race where a competitor has to drink a yard of ale before putting his head on the top of a broom handle and run around it ten times before running 50 metres to the finishing line.

So don't despair, put your mortgage on Team GB to top the medal table. Let the good times roll.

What the.......!