Showing posts from October, 2016

Snowdon Safari - Guest Post by Jan Ruth

The summit of Drum, a small peak nestled in the Carneddau range of Snowdonia, North Wales, can be an inhospitable, dangerous place. On day two of the annual pony-gathering, a heavy shroud of fog obscured the dense landmass to within a few feet. Someone once said, ‘It’s the centuries of men’s hands on the stones that puts the heart into a place.’ The beating heart of the Carneddau for me, has to be the wild ponies, and they were the reason I found myself on top of a bleak mountain in the Welsh hills in November. Why? I was writing Palomino Sky and the trip was partly for research reasons, partly for personal interest. The ponies of the Carneddau have access to some 27,000 acres, and there are less than 200 of them out there… somewhere. Ancestors would likely have used dogs and followed on horseback but modern times dictate the use of quad bikes and scramblers. The rest of us walked, across a vast mattress of sodden heather. Within the hour though, the sun pierced through the fog and

Squared Circle Blues - Guest Post by Matt Posner

I want to thank Debbie Bennett for giving me an opportunity to appear on her blog. I can't believe it was as long ago as 2011 that she appeared on my site to promote her first thriller, Hamelin's Child . She's written so many since then. You can see that old interview here :  (BTW, she hasn't aged a day, it appears. Me, on t'other hand…) I'm here today to tell you about Squared Circle Blues , my new novel about professional wrestling in the 1980s. In a word -- why? I'm not a present or former professional wrestler. I'm a writer, I'm a teacher -- I'm not even athletic. But even with its outlaw reputation, and even with the widespread belief that it is fake, professional wrestling, in a way, taught me as much about manhood as any other sport every could. First of all, professional wrestling isn't fake. A better word would be FIXED. The wrestlers know the outcome and work toward it, putting on a show as they go. Yes, they use storyline

Thoughts on a new doc: N M Browne

Flowers and Prosecco from my sister! I think I might have a Phd. I mean I’m not sure because I haven’t worn a weird hat or been given a certificate, but I have been congratulated – a lot. It’s been lovely. I’ve drunk Prosecco and people have said nice things and I have demurred. ‘It’s only in Creative Writing,’ I say, as if that makes it worth less, as if writing doesn’t matter and being creative is something to be embarrassed about. Why do I do that?   OK, so am the kind of person who wouldn’t want to be in any club that had me as a member. I also tend to think that if I can do something then it has to be easy. I am in awe of people who can do the many things I can’t. I suppose that’s a personality thing but more than that I find myself colluding with the view that ‘soft’ subjects are for the intellectually feeble. I don’t argue when people talk of ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects, when they denigrate those things that can’t be measured, weighed and scientifically valued. What am I thi


I'm about to order Jan Needle's: RUMP OF RUMP HALL - THE RISE OF RONALD T RUMP.   Having always loathed "THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS" (all the animals seemed to be middle-aged or elderly clubbish gentlemen - not my scene) I love Jan's satires, and know I'm going to enjoy this one. Having said that, I do, accidentally, own a copy of one of  Kenneth Grahame's lesser-known works: THE GOLDEN AGE, first published in 1899, with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish ( I believe he went on to p ro duce biscuit tin lids which are now collect ors' items). Here is Graham's lost childhood in idyllic English countryside. I n parts, i t's a funny book, with small boys' fantas y games along with inscrutable aunts and amusing elderly gents, but it's also sad, full of nostalgia for a world that was rapidly vanishing, and as with everything written around that period and later, there's the shadow of the First World War just around the corner

Education Courtesy of Madame Jo-Jo, Dr Dolittle and Tintin - Andrew Crofts

Now that all my children are through with their education I have been pondering on some of the decisions we made along the way for them, and on my own educational decisions, or lack of them. I'm not sure that any of the lessons which have proved most useful to me in life happened in classrooms. My middle daughter needed to make a film as part of her media studies A level and asked if I had any ideas. I was at the time working on a book with the manager of an electro-pop act which had sold more than twenty million albums during the late eighties and nineties and I suggested that she should ask him if she could film an up-coming re-launch of the lead singer, who was also the manager’s partner, as he was releasing a solo album. The first venue for the re-launch was to be Madame Jojo’s, an infamous nightclub in the heart of old Soho, which had become even more famous in the seventies when its owner, Paul Raymond, had turned it into a transvestite burlesque cabaret. Paul Ra

The Year of Just Being There: Dipika Mukherjee looks back at 2016

2016 has been a most brutal, capricious year. On January 24th, my eldest brother Amitabha Mukerjee, a marathon swimmer and all-round sportsman, met with an accident while bicycling in Kanpur. He is Professor of Computer Science at IIT Kanpur with a luminous intelligence, but the impact severely damaged his brain stem. I flew from Chicago to be with my family. Amit was airlifted to New Delhi after developing life-threatening bedsores, he was in a persistent coma, he developed septicemia at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the doctors thought his MRI looked like Michael Schumacher's; e veryone, including the doctors, said Pray for a miracle. The days blurred; we held on to his every breath before releasing our own. My parents, at 90 and 80 years of age, were terrified that they wouldn’t live to see him ever open his eyes. In March, I had to be in Malaysia to launch an anthology on Malaysian sports writing titled, “Champion Fellas”. And there, in