Getting down to writing.

How easy is that? Well not so easy if you are setting out to write another novel.  I wrote last week about the challenges and choices that face every author at the beginning of a new work.

I was once encouraged to just put down my bottom, sit up and type/write – no matter what the substance and sooner or later there will be something of value remaining that can contribute to the finished work.   Though I have reservations about where the empty page can take you.  An empty page and perhaps an empty mind!

Today, after mulling over the last week the development of the idea of “The beginning of my end” I’ve put a bit more flesh on the bone.  I still agonize about the autobiographical bit and how hard it is to avoid.  We are after all, what we have become through the data bank of our experience.  It is impossible to avoid even in this age of endless research tools.  The key is our imagination and our ability to imagine.

This should I suppose be limitless, but it seldom is, tied down as we are to the experience of our own being.  I find it impossible to get excited about certain options that are fantastic, sci-fi, horror and even brutal everyday crime.   There lie my limitations as an author.  A narrowly defined horizon that imprisons my imagination.

I will try to work to broaden my options and open my mind.  But even at 76, it’s hard to do despite having traveled more than most and enjoyed a relatively wild and certainly interesting life.

At least in this little blog, I’ve set myself up, to flex my imaginative muscles and step into a brand new horizon.  Who knows what I shall find there?


US trumps the UK!

The UK’s leaderless government is a bit like a fish tank.  The leader is in the obscure reaches of the foliage whilst the bigger fish left at home circle in a vacuous uncertainty. What utterances are given or leaked are of minor consequences as the whole  Parliament is frozen in the headlight of the onrushing Brexit.

In the USA however, they live in a different paradigm, where the White House is in chaos.  It is in its way vacuous too, but unlike the UK where there is a search for a coherent policy, without leadership, the US is led by an unstable and voluble President who has no idea what he’s doing.  He just shoots from the hip a stream of prejudice, nonsense, and downright bad manners.

Trump gets my vote as the most suitable painting (mine) to hang in the lavatory so that when I do the business I can focus on the poor old USA and its asinine leader.




‘It’s the beginning of the end’

Well, it comes to us all.  What are the first signs of a natural end?  Now approaching my ninth decade it seems a promising idea to write a novel which takes the grumpy old man’s view and trace his eccentricities from his viewing platform on the edge of the end of his life.  This will be fiction so the canvass is without limit.

The first tenet I should hold on to is to avoid the autobiographical.  This is more difficult than it sounds.  Do I make the story of a wimp or a hero, a genius or a disenfranchised, poor or rich?  Above all will the story be happy or sad and what point am I trying to make to the reader?

Do stories have to have a point?  Literary fiction is sometimes more of a linear tale, mysteries are usually solved, though in ‘The Accidental Spy’ they were not. Horror novels frighten and some make us laugh.  Then, of course, there’s the vexed question of gender, can I write a book that is not too blokeish and that will appeal to both sexes and nowadays anything in between.

Bearing in mind the age of the author I had better be quick about it, so head down and off I go.  A new beginning towards just another end.

Snake oil, the White House, and the BBC

An astonishing event took place last night, The BBC’s Emily Maitlis, the good looking side of Newsnight, faced the ‘Mooch’ aka Anthony Scaramucci the White House Director of Communications.  The Mooch, by the way, is sharp as a tack and has a hair to match, not a hair out of place.

Mooch wants to smooch and who wouldn’t with the delightful Maitlis, but she wasn’t having any.  Instead, she wanted to pin down this new man on the block.  What about the Attorney General?  What about the Russian scandal? The ‘Mooch’ was having none of that either.

Emily, one of the elite, Britsh elite to boot, clearly did not understand the President who is such a lovely guy.  He, the President that is,  understands things that even the ‘Mooch’ doesn’t get.  The President leads grass roots movement that understands the disenchantment of the political elite.  The President is also apparently the nicest most loveable and loyal man in the world.  Wow!

The ‘Mooch’ who not many months ago called the President ‘a dick’ or words to that effect, had missed the moment and the movement but he is now on board.

“Emily” The ‘Mooch’ smooched, “I think you’re sounding a bit like the elite!” Ms. Maitlis, legs out of sight, could hardly get a word in.  She searched for a question at which the ‘Mooch’ would not rush off at a tangent in praise of his misunderstood leader and came up with the subject of a post-Brexit trade deal for the UK and the USA.  At last a chance for the Mooch to smooch and Emily to smile.  Relief that the snake oil session was over, over to you Evan, Newsnight’s rather less glamorous presenter.

For lonely lovers everywhere.

Waiting in an empty

Today I have nothing to do

If you were here,

today would be full of things to do.

But it is not, it is an empty day

when the beach is un-walked,

the sea un-swum.


I wait, there is nothing else to do,

for I can not think of anything but you.

You are not here, the vacuum goes on,

I could read, I could drive, but to what purpose

I cannot read because my mind is full of you,

I cannot drive because I have nowhere to go.


The beach holds no delight,

if I sit there alone,

there is no one to splash or hold my hand.

I do not want to drink beer at the shack

for there is no one to look at

over my tepid, flat rum and some’at.


I can dream and sleep and think of you,

see you in my dreams and pretend that I

can touch you and hear you laugh.

I have no desire to be awake,

for if I sleep and dream I can be with you.

My fear is that I shall lose you in my dreams.


And then there will only be the empty day,

once more, spent waiting,

waiting for time to pass

until the day is bright and full again

and  I can hold you in my arms,

feel your breath and look into your eyes.


For those who are suddenly alone.


The Silence.

Hello!  The house is empty, shockingly quiet

Dust settles, time ticks by, but there’s no sound

Of your voice, your footstep, or your laughter

There’s no sound at all, – listen to the quiet.


There is peace,… and there is quiet

You enjoy peace together

You endure quiet alone

This quiet is lonely – lonely as the grave.


Peace, be at peace!  Accept that there will be no more

Laughter – at least not your laughter

Or scolding, or just plain old bustle

No more shopping dropped on the kitchen floor.


No more shouts to and from the kitchen

No more shouts up the stairs

Just quiet, and eccentric babbling

to someone who is no longer there.


There is a noise that breaks the silence

Listen to the grown man weep

In solitude. In emptiness the tears flow

Hoping impossibly; that the silence is just a dream.




A retrospective on the tragedy of Aberfan 51 yrs ago


The world needs to know, that when the darkness comes, how black it is.

How a town like Aberfan, so small, so modest, with its peaceful tumbledown streets could

be struck by such an ghastly, catastrophic tragedy.

Aberfan, a soft and lovely name, serene in the black of a coal hewn valley, in a coal hewn

place called Wales.


They lived their lives in the shadow of the great hill of spoiled land,

they sang and went to Chapel and believed in what they had.

They knew and loved their neighbours from habit and

the comfort of a known tomorrow.  They were content.


Children were the treasure of that place. Nurtured in a hard

but lovely family that spanned the town from end to end.

In the shadow of the filthy tip placed by skilled and knowledgeable men.

They trusted and cared for one another, a village of togetherness


All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.

They sang, they believed. Tomorrow was to be half term,

what joy, what sweetness in the coming day;

at home, no school, just a chance to play.


And then, with the Devil, riding down the hill, the blackness came.

A monstrous surge of filthy slurry.

Half the village children, teachers and carers too

Wiped out, gone, slaughtered in a trice.



This was not a war. It was much worse, it was the sin of carelessness.

The arrogance of an ignorant establishment.

Worse still it was a sin of omission,

a sin of ‘we don’t care’; until it will always be too late.


Buried alive! Buried alive in that black filth!

Sacrilege, obscenity!

A pain that’s worse than death for those who mourn.

Now we care. We weep, but we cannot take the pain away.


Fifty years have passed, and still the guilty live

Guilty because they live, because they didn’t lose,

Guilty because they couldn’t cry

Guilty because they didn’t die.


They queued to find their dead,

wrapped in blankets in the Chapel morgues

A grief unreal in its magnitude

Where each heart beat for one another.


Aberfan is torn apart,

where modest heaven has descended into hell.

Where the future is no more.

Blackened and drowned into foul oblivion.


The sepulchre of love now sits high on the hill

Where parents join their loves at last.

Memorials sweet cannot and never will,

wipe out the blackness of that dreadful day.




The writing or (eating) is on the wall.  Meat is a luxury that is in many ways ruining the world. I speak as a voracious meat eater who loves nothing better than a monstrously large piece of beef.  I am short, moderately fat and I have to admit to being happy!

It must be obvious, to all but the most sheltered, that continuing to devour millions of tons of meat every day has grave consequences for the planet.  The food required to feed all those animals, the land required to keep them, the greenhouse gasses, and not least the undoubted suffering of millions of animals on their way and at the slaughterhouses of our varied world.

It seems to me that there will inevitably have to be meat substitutes that provide protein and fat and at the same time appeal to our evolving palates.

Having confessed to being a meat eating slob, I have to ask what I can do to change first my personal habits and secondly what the world at large should do or could do!

Am I going to give up eating meat?  Probably not?  Certainly not?  Maybe?

What’s the world going to do about it?  I think the smart money is on a scientific solution; something along the lines of synthetic production of proteins from abundant materials without the greenhouse gasses and all that suffering. The same I guess goes for cows’ milk.  Somebody smart out there will make a lot of money and make the world a safer and a kinder place.