For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
One Hundred And Not Out: Not my age, I hasten to say (although there are some days when I feel like that), but the number of blog posts which I have done for my little WordPress site, as may be divined by the Roman C.
One hundred is a milestone in many things, but particularly in cricket, something which I used to enjoy watching, until the test matches disappeared from free television. Nowadays I enjoy listening to Test Match Special instead. It is, in fact, the only radio programme to which I regularly listen. Sorry if you are an American and reading this, and wondering what I am going on about. But cricket is just as important to me as baseball is to you lot.
I have not written a cricket novel. I’m not sure that such a novel would be any good. It certainly would not be any good if written by me, as one of the things which I am not is a sports writer. You need a certain skill set to write about sport, and particularly about cricket, and I don’t think that I have got those skills. That has not stopped me from having a chapter about cricket in Tim, a novel on which I am currently working; and I have written a lone short story about some kids playing cricket, and one of them imagining that he was Steve Harmison.
Neither was as good as the play A Cake For Jonners, written by a very good friend of mine called Ben Smith. That was a good piece of writing about cricket, and all of the things which go with it (and about more than that, too). If it ever comes back to the radio I suggest that you check it out.
A hundred brings me to one of my favourite bugbears. Those who have read all of my posts may have gleaned that I am a rather pedantic individual. I like things to be correct. And one of the things which I am pedantic about is when the twenty-first century began.
In my opinion the twenty-first century began on January the first, 2001. Yet in Britain we celebrated the passing from one century to the next on January the 31st 1999. But that is wrong. A century has to be one hundred years long.
There was no year dot. BC ended with the year 1 BC. The next year was 1 AD. There was no year 0 AD. So the first year of the first century was 1 AD; the second year was 2 AD, right up until the hundredth and final year of the first century Anno Domini being 100 AD. That means that the first year of the second century AD was 101 AD; the first year of the third century AD was 201 AD, and so on. The first year of the twenty-first century was 2001. Either that, or we have had a century which was only ninety-nine years long.
In Britain, at the end of the 19th century, we had New Year celebrations for the coming century on December the 31st, 1900; and we mocked the French for being mathematically incorrect, and for having had them in 1899, a year too early. Yet ninety-nine years after the last eve of a century celebrations we had our next. That is stupidity, however you look at it.
I blame Tony Blair. It might only be a tiny crime compared with some of the other things which he is accused of doing. But it was he who organised all of those millennial celebrations, a whole year too early. Not that the Conservative Party would necessarily have celebrated the next century on the correct date.
A hundred features not just in cricket and in the passing of the years. It is important in other sports and endeavours.
A hundred break in snooker is pretty special, for example (my best break ever is only twenty-eight). It might not be a 147, but a hundred is still pretty good. It used to be a rarity to see a hundred break on television, back when I first began watching snooker, in the era of Ray Reardon and John Spencer. But now century breaks seem to be increasingly common, with leading players having had hundreds of them in their playing careers.
We think of a Roman centurion as controlling a hundred men. A century was a subdivision of a Roman legion. But I am given to understand that a century was not always a hundred men, rather disappointingly, as I had grown up thinking that it was.
The Hundred Years War was not exactly a hundred, either. According to most historians this intermittent struggle between France and England began in 1337, after Philip VI of France seized Guyenne, and ended in 1453. That made it the Hundred And Sixteen Years War, in my reckoning. But I’m a pedant. I can’t help it.
Few authors have written a hundred books or more. If you count my poetry and short stories then I have exceeded that number, but I have the advantage of having a lot of free time, which I try not to waste, but to do something creative. And I have not yet been picked up by a ‘proper’ publisher. I have put my work out on Kindle, instead. But I remain hopeful that, if I do not give up, that at least some of my hundred plus books will one day appear in non-electronic forms.
There are some authors, though, who have hit a century of published books and, in some cases, gone way beyond that number, having more books published than I will ever be able to write.
Barbara Cartland is a name which first springs to mind. They recently discovered a treasure trove – if that is the correct word – by this prolific romantic novelist, which I think brings the number of books which she wrote to more than eight hundred. At my current rate of writing I would have to live to around a hundred and twenty to write that many books (and my rate of work seems to be slowing down).
Isaac Asimov was another extremely prolific author. He published over five hundred books, not all of them science fiction. I have to admit, here, that apart from a few short stories the only Asimov which I have read is the Foundation series of books. I should really read more by him.
He did not just write science fiction stories, though. He wrote two auto-biographies, and a great number of books on science for consumption by the ordinary, non-scientific reader.
We venerate the number one hundred, I suppose, because we use a decimal system. If we used some other system then a hundred would not be so important. If we used one which was base sixteen then maybe we would think that 256 was very important. If we used base 60 maybe we would think that 3,600 was a number of great significance.
This is not idle musing on my part, as the ancient Babylonians actually used a sexagesimal – base 60 – system. People have not always used decimals. And without such a system a century becomes a little less important; and it is that magic century, that one hundred, which this post has all been about.
I’m not a fan of the TV series The 100, though.