My 2nd book ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’

My second book, in collaboration with the amazing illustrator Spencer Wilson, is called ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’. It’s the perfect read for anyone who works from home or is planning to take the plunge and leave the traditional (office bound) world of work behind.

“Ask the man on the Blue Peter Omnibus and he’ll tell you: homeworkers spend their days lapping up This Morning and Diagnosis Murder. As such, they have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the latest, celebrity-endorsed, streak-free self-tanning products, along with a detailed understanding of police forensics procedure.

Yet, the reality is rather different. As the old saying goes: ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. Homeworkers do have access to TV, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that they spend entire days watching reruns of Columbo. Remember, those who work from home also have constant access to their bath tub, but this doesn’t mean they spend every day up to their neck in Radox”

HOMEWORKING: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Published by Ice House Books this is my second time working with Spencer Wilson, after The Modern MAMIL: How to look pro.

I’m thrilled with the way this book has turned out – so please pick up your copy soon. ‘Homeworking: The Ultimate Guide’ is available here.

On yer bike!

I regularly write features for Cycling Plus, the UK’s most popular cycling magazine.

“Imagine the scene: the sun is shining and the birds are singing. You’re on your bike, riding at that perfect pace: not too slow so you’re burning carbs, not too fast so you take in the vista around you. Your freshly-shaved legs are looking good in perfectly fitting shorts and your tan lines are maturing nicely – in fact, it would be easy to be mistake you for a pro. You chat with fellow riders who are great company, while other road users happily, safely and respectfully keep their distance. The only thing on your mind is what type of coffee to order when you arrive at the friendly little café that lies just beyond the crest of the next rewardingly challenging incline. 

Too good to be true? Not necessarily.

At Cycling Plus we believe the perfect ride is always achievable. Here’s our guide to what you need for The Perfect Ride, Every Time.”

Writing for animation…

Over the years I’ve written for promos, interstitials and short animation. 

A favourite of mine was ‘Hairy Dog Stories’ a series of shorts I created for Nick Toons. 

The premise was: all dogs are allotted a set number of lampposts to ‘christen’ with pee every day, these are the stories they tell each other while keeping to a tough schedule…

The dogs were named ‘Arnold’ and ‘Toby’, voiced by the amazing Lewis MacLeod of Postman Pat and Star Wars fame. The animation was created by Zoo Films.

Is it just me or are Seagulls really evil?

This is one of my favourites.

When you live by the sea, gulls become a constant source of frustration. Here’s a column I wrote for West magazine:

As a child, ‘Jaws’ was one of those films I hid behind the sofa to watch. I’d dare myself to snatch glimpses of the scary (and simultaneously ridiculous) monster shark. Yet, as the increasingly leaden sequels piled up – like karaoke versions of the original – one thing began to grate with me.

Was the villain of the piece actually evil?

Surely the shark just did what came naturally? Even if ‘what came naturally’ included eating unsuspecting swimmers? I concluded that no animal, including sharks, is evil. They just occasionally do antisocial things, like eat people when they’re hungry.

I reached this conclusion long before I lived by the sea. Yet since my move West, I’ve discovered there’s an exception to every rule: in this case it’s the seagull. Seagulls aren’t like other animals. They are malignant, plotting, conniving, nasty creatures. Seagulls are a thumping headache in bird form, serving no purpose other than causing chaos – which they love.

By the 2nd ‘Jaws’ sequel, I felt sorry for the shark. I’ve never felt sorry for a seagull.”

Chris McGuire, West Magazine: ‘Gullible? Me?’

Restaurant Review: The River Exe Cafe

Here’s a review I wrote of the amazing River Exe Cafe for The Western Morning News. To read the full piece click here.

As I took my seat, I could see the twinkle of water beneath me – through the wooden slates of the floor ( a similar experience to walking on a Victorian pier). Add to that the gentle sway of the place – which became more animated when a large vessel passed – and I immediately understood that the joy of The River Exe Cafe is the dining experience itself. It’s immersive – although hopefully you’re not immersed – put simply, you don’t ‘go’ to The River Exe Cafe, you ‘do’ it.

Chris McGuire, West Magazine

Cycling Plus Features…

I regularly write features for Cycling Plus, the UK’s most popular cycling magazine.

“Imagine the scene: the sun is shining and the birds are singing. You’re on your bike, riding at that perfect pace: not too slow so you’re burning carbs, not too fast so you take in the vista around you. Your freshly-shaved legs are looking good in perfectly fitting shorts and your tan lines are maturing nicely – in fact, it would be easy to be mistake you for a pro. You chat with fellow riders who are great company, while other road users happily, safely and respectfully keep their distance. The only thing on your mind is what type of coffee to order when you arrive at the friendly little café that lies just beyond the crest of the next rewardingly challenging incline.

Too good to be true? Not necessarily.

At Cycling Plus we believe the perfect ride is always achievable. Here’s our guide to what you need for The Perfect Ride, Every Time.”

Better Latte than never…

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Western Morning News a few years back about how becoming a sleep-deprived parent made me completey dependent on coffee…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a coffee snob, far from it. I couldn’t tell an Arabica from a Robusta (I looked up the main bean types on the previously-mentioned search engine). I don’t mind if it’s freeze-dried, freshly ground or filtered through an old sock. As long as it’s black and buckling under the weight of its own caffeine, then that’s fine with me.

I’m well aware that coffee is no real substitute for genuine sleep. But when a decent stretch of sleep isn’t on offer, due to my baby son teething / having a cold / being hungry / doing a secret experiment on how long sleep-deprived parents can last before losing the plot, coffee is a great plan B.

They know me at my local coffee shop. I’ve gone from that annoying Lycra-clad cyclist (with footwear that sounds like tap-shoes), to that annoying pram-pushing dad (mumbling about night feeds and Old MacDonald).

During my son’s sporadic daytime naps, I often sit in the café, nursing a latte and watching the other caffeine users arrive for their ‘fix’. The customers range from an eclectic selection of stressed parents through to what I’ve come to know as ‘normal’ people – although normal may be pushing it. The other day, one man insisted on being given a latte without milk. “But that’s an espresso, sir!” said the barista, as politely as she could. “No, no, no,” he replied, increasingly irate. “I want a latte without milk!” So that’s what he got. A lonely espresso shot at the bottom of a huge paper cup. Another man, quite brazenly, opened his duffle coat and poured an entire container of sugar into a pocket. I can only imagine that anyone having a hot drink at his house, would find the sugar a fluff-laden affair.

There’s no doubt that coffee makes people act oddly! Or is it that odd people drink a lot of coffee? I think that, in my sleep-deprived state, I fall into the latter category.

In fact, the only coffee I won’t touch is the coffee crème chocolate that always lingers when everyone has eaten their favourite soft centres at Christmas. I sometimes wonder how sleep deprived I’d need to be before considering a nibble on one of those?

Let’s hope I never find out.

‘Tall, dark and strong’, Chris McGuire West Magazine – Western Morning News

For the full piece, click here.

The Olden Days

If there’s one thing I love to write, it would have to be newspaper columns. These 5 minute reads give a columnist the chance to take a 600 word flight of fancy.

Here’s one of my favourites, taken from my tenure at Western Morning News’ ‘West’ magazine.

“What was it like?”

This statement ended my daydream with a jolt. I ‘zone out’ a lot at the moment. It’s probably because, as a parent, I’m tired and increasingly good at ignoring the incessant noise that all children seem contractually bound to make.

“What’s that?”

“What was it like? ‘The Past’?”

My friend’s son waited eagerly while his father gave a ‘I can’t wait to hear how you deal with this’ expression. This week, I learned time is passing at a steady march. Things I thought were mere moments ago are now considered historical events. It’s so true: the past is a foreign country, they do do things differently there.

The last few days seem to have been designed to make me aware of the passage of time. It’s like aging his crept up and shouted ‘Boo!’ – causing me to mutter something about ‘kids these days’. There’s my hair for a start. Famously uncombed, it’s losing the battle against the grey. I had thought this made me look a little bit ‘George Clooney’, but yesterday an honest appraisal made me realise I’m the ‘Before’ man in one of the those ads that drop from the back of magazines…

Chris McGuire, ‘The Olden Days’

For the full Western Morning News column, click here.

In love with Zoom?

So, how is your day going?

Personally, I’ve had a busy, but productive, morning talking to clients over Zoom.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still finding ‘Zoom’ calls tricky.

Not the technology, it’s pretty straight forward for someone as technologically savvy as me. I say that with my tongue slightly in my cheek – although I do pride myself that, at times, I’m able to work two remote controls at once during a heavy Netflix session.

What I’m talking about is the unwritten elements to Zoom – the nuances that we’re all (slowly) getting used to…

For example, where do you look?

It may seem a strange question, but think about it.

Do you look at the other person (for ease of argument let’s assume there’s only two of you)? In any other context looking straight into the eye of the person you’re talking to is essential – but doing that is difficult in Zoom.

If you actually look into the eye that you see (on the screen), the other person gets you looking downward – which is subconsciously odd. Counter-intuitively, to look straight into the eye of your fellow Zoomer you must look into the camera – which means you don’t actually see them and miss a whole host of non-verbal cues.

Tricky eh?

To be honest, I often find myself looking at me. Rather than being driven by some narcistic urge, my fascination with my own fizzog comes from a growing sense of horror. It’s a similar feeling to when I have my hair cut – after 30 minutes of staring into my mug I find myself making mental promises to lose weight, moisturise and… well, you get the idea.

Will I ever act on any of these impulses for self-improvement? It’s unlikely. But Zoom is bringing these concerns into my consciousness on a far more regular basis than life used to back in the days where I could simply avoid mirrors.

Then there’s the time delay. I’ve gone from constantly tripping over the sentences of my co-Zoomer, to leaving such long gaps between speech as to make both of us check the connection hasn’t frozen.

And how do you say Goodbye on Zoom? Do you wave? Do you smile. Do you press ‘End’ and then realise you have to press another (additional) button to truly end the call, leaving you with the lingering feeling that your co-Zoomer’s last impression of you was one of frustration as you fiddled with the tech.

Perhaps it’s time to concentrate on the positives? Despite all the quirks of a platform like Zoom, imagine how tricky a pandemic would be without it. Personally, I’m determined that by the time we’re all Covid free, I’ll have mastered Zoom.

Watch this space.

End.

Really, that’s the end.

Western Morning News: Fancy That!

It’s all a bit full-on at the minute, isn’t it?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s this: a bit of laugh always makes everything seem better.
Here’s a piece that I wrote for WesternMorningNews. It’s a sorry tale of green tights and bodypaint. Have a read of (and a chuckle at) my own personal fancy dress nightmare.


“I’ve thought about boarding up our letterbox. Nothing good ever comes through it. Recently we saw the least welcome arrival yet. An invite to a Fancy Dress Party!
“Will it be Fancy Dress or FANCY DRESS?” I muttered.
The former is a party where you turn up in normal clothes but take a token prop – hold a wand and proclaim you’re Harry Potter. The latter is FANCY DRESS where you’ve let the side down if you don’t need a team of dressers to squeeze you into your custom-made outfit.
“I think it’ll be FANCY DRESS,” my girlfriend murmured. I would be attending the party dressed as ‘The Jolly Green Giant’ while my girlfriend would go as ‘Bagpuss’. Don’t ask.
When the big night arrived, my girlfriend uttered the words every reluctant Fancy Dresser dreads: “I’m feeling ill. I think I should stay at home. You should go though.”
Cursing ‘Bagpuss’ under my breath, I walked to the venue…”

For the full column click here.