Admin Screws Up – Talk Among Yourselves


A few days of pleasant weather and some nice meals, I thought, a mini Holliday and I can get the thriller finished, run the blog, chill out.

When I got to the airport I opened my laptop case and discovered I’d left my laptop charging at home.  As a result, you’re off the hook for a few days – I’m typing this on a tablet, which is not ideal I can only type basic messages and no photos, so unless I find an Internet cafe (remember those?) there will be no posts until Saturday.

I’ve got emojis, though. Oh joy.

33 comments on “Admin Screws Up – Talk Among Yourselves”

  1. Jo W says:

    A case of the unconscious mind making sure that you get that rest,I think. (Or in other words- you silly s*d!)

  2. Matt says:

    You will be able to have a proper holiday now. I always leave all electronic diversions at home while on holiday. Its the only way to fully relax. Its a bit of a bother when you have to book something while away on-line though so I can see the value of a smart phone while away.

  3. admin says:

    Actually I’m rather shocked at my internet addiction. I’m at a loss today; it’ll be interesting to see how cold turkey works out (see, I’m posting from my phone already!)

  4. Brooke says:

    Does anyone believe Admin’s “I forgot my laptop” story? He didn’t notice the weight difference in the laptop case? Really? No final check around the house? Wallet, passport, clean undies in case of accident, laptop–oh there on the table charging–phone w. tickets…

  5. admin says:

    Brooke, here’s what I did, got back from Barcelona, dumped bag, went to writers’ meeting with Kim Newman, Paul McAuley and Barry Forshaw, got in late, woke up, emptied bag, refilled it, suddenly remembered friends were going to Morocco and had to do something for them, now running late, whizzed back to collect stuff, realised I hadn’t backed new book to cloud, opened laptop, dropped a film down to my neighbours because they asked to borrow it (‘Capernaum’) and ran back up to grab bag sans laptop. Also, dog ate my homework.

  6. SimonB says:

    Well there’s always pen and paper… Have a nice break.

  7. Ian Mason says:

    On the subject of homework excuses: Upon hearing from Brian Smith that he hadn’t done his homework because he had “no paper at home”, my English teacher, one John “Rusty” Reynolds, queried “None at all? Not even any with ‘Izal’ printed in the corner?”.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    Excuses: Could not come to school because he had slippy shoes (which meant that he didn’t have treaded boots and the path up to the highway & the bus was a sheet of ice) and another time because he was making wood (cutting stove wood for his mother). He was a good kid and only 11.

  9. Brooke says:

    Admin is such a name dropper… Newman, McAuley and Forshaw indeed.

  10. Wayne Mook says:

    A friend at school once gat away with telling a teacher the tortoise ate their homework. I kid you not.

    Enjoy the holiday.

    Maybe you can keep notes on the cold turkey; is this the ground work for a new thriller?


  11. Gary Hart says:

    Wayne, “The Day The Net Went Down!”, I’d give most of the ‘yoof’ of today about two hours before it makes Lord of the Flies look like a dollies tea party.

  12. Peter Tromans says:

    Ian M – I wonder if Rusty recalled the story of Jack Kerouac converting his typewriter to use a continuous roll of something like Izal.

  13. admin says:

    Izal – if ever there was s symbol of post-war hardship it’s that! I can almost feel it now.

  14. Wayne Mook says:

    Medicated toilet paper, it did make splendid tracing paper. Did you know the same company owned Ronseal?

    I guess that explained a lot.


  15. Hillary Morgan says:

    When I travel I leave my laptop & tablet at home. I live in the US & our ‘feds’ are very aggressive in searching {& seizing} personal tech. There are still hotel business centers & internet cafes you can find. I am the daughter of an English war bride & a Yankee fighter pilot, so I particularly enjoy the historic bits in the Bryant & May books. Please do keep writing!

  16. Peter Tromans says:

    Izal didn’t sell much of their paper. Most of it came free to public bodies with their disinfectants.

  17. admin says:

    Disinfectant is another creepy smell redolent of the past. Our local cinema reeked of that and fag ash.
    I may try and post later – we don’t need pictures, do we?

  18. snowy says:

    The link between Ronseal and Izal isn’t quite as outlandish as one might think, the company originally produced coke from coal.

    Making coke for blast furnaces to feed the enormous demand for Sheffield steel produced vast amounts of by-products, [mostly various forms of brown gloop].

    The heavy coal-tar would be used as creosote to preserve the millions of wooden sleepers needed to satisfy the railway boom.

    The lighter carbolic acid, [a miraculous compound that revolutionised surgery and public health], became the disinfectant that gives Izal paper that characteristic smell.

    [Claims that whatever was left over in the vat was put into bottles and labelled ‘Henderson’s Relish’ are vile slurs based on jealousy put about by people who had the misfortune to be born on the wrong side of the Pennines.]

    In one of those tough little squares, you can trace a century of human progress.

  19. Brooke says:

    Love this blog…where else can a conversation begin with an excuse about a missing laptop and morph into discourse on germicides, origin and uses of.

    And yes, we in US need pictures.

  20. Peter Tromans says:

    Many years ago, before the beginning of time, I was an apprentice in a steel works. We used Izal or its rival for roughness Bronco in the machine shop, not for their intended purpose, but to achieve very precise alignment of work pieces in milling machines. We also used the soft stuff; the choice depended on what fraction of a thousandth of an inch you needed to move the object.

  21. Helen Martin says:

    I have a question about Snowy. I am wondering if he is connected in any way with explosive demonstrations done in connection with historic re-enactments. I was watching a rather nice man helping some younger types with some attack techniques on ancient fortifications and they were referring to the gentleman as “Snowy”. I’m rather hoping it is the same man because he seemed both knowledgeable and enthusiastic as well as friendly.

  22. John Griffin says:

    Thanks for giving me a horrific flashback. Izal takes me back to my Nan’s house and the outdoor loo, where the choice for ‘wiping’ (scraping) was Izal or squares of cut newspaper secured on a string. The seat was a bumfreezer, and there were spiders to watch if you were bored. No electric, it was an oil-lamp.

  23. admin says:

    All of which reminds me of episodes of Steptoe and Son’s ‘kharzi’ with its gruesome Victorian newspaper squares. There were fine Victorian lavatories in central London, and I recall one under Piccadilly Circus that was (I think) turned into an oyster bar.

  24. Line B says:

    Since I am from sweden, what is Izal?!? I have been a quiet reader of your books and your blog for a long time, bit now I have to know. Izal? Is it really a toiletpaper with disinfectant ON it? Or is my english crap and I didn’t understand?
    Here in sweden we went from moss to newspaper and then evolved to just toiletpaper. Boring, I know. But hej jag är från Sverige :-)!

  25. snowy says:

    Hello Line B

    Britain became completely obsessed with germs in the second half of the 19th century. This created a ‘Hygiene Mania’ and hundreds of strange new products were created to make money from it.

    One of the less insane ones was commonly called ‘Izal’, sheets of toilet paper treated with a carbolic acid germicide.

    Most people first encountered it at school, it was like tracing paper (kalkerpapper), and smelt of disinfectant.

  26. snowy says:

    All dead posh, you lot!

    Here are the instructions for the use of newspaper squares that seem to have been lost in time. [This process was carried out while one was ‘en repose’].

    Begin with a single page of newsprint, tabloid size.

    Tear into quarters and put into a stack, [on your knee].

    [Start here for Izal].

    Screw the stack into a ball and unfold.

    Turn the stack over and repeat x3.

    You now have 4 sheets of soft paper.

    [Try it and then file it away in memory, for that occasion when you find yourself in dire need].

    [Anybody who claims that printed materials have no use in a world of tablets and smartphones, has obviously never tried to wipe their bum with a iPad.]

  27. Helen Martin says:

    Well, yes, Snowy. If you are using a public facility in a provincial park and somehow the necessary supplies have run out those instructions would work just fine. You would, of course, have a newspaper from whichever small town you’ve stopped in for coffee/gas and any other missing supplies. (Don’t suggest one of those items could be the missing necessary because that’s boring.)
    [Do you do explosions and weapons demonstrations?]

  28. Line B says:

    Thank you Snowy! I find it amusing that what was supposed to be good in the bum transferred to be usefull in the schoolsystem. Kalkerpapper-genius! British people are obviously more creative than swedes. Never heard of the same creativity with moss. And thanks for the tip on homemade toiletpaper. People who says all you need is love have never been out of toiletpaper.

  29. snowy says:

    [H, stop chasing that rabbit, it’s not me.] ::-):

  30. Ian Luck says:

    As this seems to have drifted from a ‘Homework Excuse’ , to something more faecal in content, via using ‘sixty grit’ (or Izal paper), I thought that I’d include the following: The charming English expression, used as the mildest of mild expletives, ‘Poppycock!’, is derived from the Dutch ‘Pappekak’ (if the spelling is wrong, then I apologise), which means ‘Soft Shit’. Similarly, if you move to the Netherlands, and need to polish your coffee table, don’t ask for a tin of ‘Pledge’ in the shop. The word ‘Pledge’ in Dutch, means ‘Piss’.

  31. Ian Luck says:

    And an ancient joke, of low quality: What do John Wayne and Izal toilet paper have in common? – They’re rough, tough, and take no shit from anyone.

    Now kindly return to your seats.

  32. Helen Martin says:

    I described the paper softening process to a group of quilters who allowed as how it would work fine except you’d get ink rubbed off the paper. Someone pointed out that it wouldn’t be anywhere visible to the public so who would care? Another piece of vital information passed on.

  33. Chris Everest says:

    This whole thread just reeks of Arthur Bryant from the “I’m taking my laptop case for a holiday” to “Modern Youth has been been ruined by Andrex – Bring back Izal” ….Magnificent guys – restores my faith in humanity

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