Friday, 6 February 2015


After the Chilcott report is finally made (if it ever is) there should be two further enquiries:
  1. Why was the report commissioned only in 2009? The invasion took place in 2003.
  2. Why are we still waiting for Chilcott?
MPs seem to think the report should not be published before an election. I'm not sure why. Westminster badly let the country and the world down with their 'yes' vote. They were completely out of the step with the nation. I didn't see any marches in favour of the invasion of Iraq. Blair may have been the arch-villain on this side of the Atlantic, but there was a 412-149 vote in support of his proposals. The voting split, by Party, was as follows:

2 (+1 tell)
Ind Con
254 (+2 tell)
84 (+1 tell)

Sunday, 15 June 2014


You'd think GREAT LEADER TONY would have the decency to jump off a tall building or at least shut up.  

Friday, 14 February 2014


I have been living and working in your country for nearly two years. Things were OK to start with. People treated me as what I was - someone who came here to work and make some money for a while before going home. In the last few months things have changed - they treat me as some sort of bandit. Now I can't wait to leave in June.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Plebgate

What makes Andrew Mitchell and Co. think we should all now clamour for his reinstatement or be willing to spend even more hundreds of thousands of pounds on this playground enquiry?

My initial instinct when this originally hit the news was not to believe ANY party associated with the Plebgate business. I wrote a disrespectful piece of verse about this called The Sworn-at Policemen. You can see this by clicking HERE. Chris Williams has now added a lively song version. The recent statements by senior policemen have done nothing to alter my disbelief. All these show me is that the police have decided it is politic to back off at the moment.

Still, there might be a plus side to this ridiculous affair. Perhaps generous budgets will be set so that teachers can treat other playground squabbles with due earnestness?

Incidentally, I love the name PLEBGATE. Usually, adding '-gate' to the name of any scandal is no more than lazy journalism. This time, though, a physical structure, a gate erected to keep the plebs out, is involved. In years to come it will be added to tourist itineraries and pointed out seriously by guides as The Plebgate.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Digital Froth

I heard someone on the radio complaining about all the abuse he was getting on his Twitter account, saying this should be better policed and that he wants 'his social network life to be as safe as his street life'. Now, I don't know anything about Twitter, but surely he must realise the difference between his two 'lives'. One is real, the other is so much digital froth

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sharing enchantment and fascination with nature.

Am I alone in thinking that you can be seduced by nature or are there many others like myself? Religion holds no interest in me despite having a catholic schooling and upbringing. Materialism is another planet somewhere out in the far distance never entering my thoughts. Walking paths, lanes, tracks where a history of foot prints have left their mark  fascinates me. Natures colours regardless of the season amaze me. I have danced in the mist, ran with the winds, did not just feel the rain i got soaking wet, swam naked in seas, all this I know  as  nature's spirit and breath. After heavy rain earth's perfume enters my very being and soars through my veins like  another entity. I hear the Cuckoo at the end of May I have witnessed salmon leaping, lambs being born along with many  foals, watched a Vixen protect her young,crows turning a bleak grey sky to ink black in their feathery cascade. All this soothes and balms my soul. Standing in stillness, under a big blanket of sky, opening your whole being to the elements and your surroundings.  Awareness will find you and seduce you into realisation that we are at one with nature. Very much like William Blake. "Shewing the two contrary states of the human soul"

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Second and Final Part

So I did it: went against the accepted wisdom that goes something like, “Whatever you do, never publish the first novel you write. Ever.” Not that I think I know better – I sometimes think I know less than very little – but I revisited that first novel after a ten-year break and found that there was something there that readers might like. Sure, it has its shortcomings, but I felt I had nothing to lose.

It was fortunate that I was able to lay my hands on a copy. After accumulating all those rejection slips from London agents and publishers, I had deleted the novel from my computer in a fit of pique. I’d printed a copy, but we moved house five years ago and things have gone missing. But, luckily for me, not the novel. The long process of retyping it onto the computer gave me the opportunity to revise and tighten the prose, and I ended up with a 64,000-word story. Quite short for a novel, but about the right length, I felt, for a debut. At least readers wouldn’t have much time to become bored. I gave it a title: The Village of Lost Souls.

Christmas was approaching by the time I finished the rewrite and final proofreads. Deciding that life is too short to read it through again – there has to come a point when you say, ‘Enough’s enough; publish and be damned!’ – I took another deep breath and pressed the publish button. Then I sat back and waited. (Actually, that’s not quite true. I had to do all the usual self-promoting stuff discussed in my earlier post on this topic. Then I sat back and waited.)

I had to wait almost three weeks for the first feedback. I expected reviews that were middle-of-the-road, neither loving nor hating; if I could average a three-star rating, I would be happy. The first review stunned me; the reviewer said, “I absolutely loved this book. Loved it!” More reviews in a similar vein followed. The lowest rating so far is three stars. I still can’t quite believe the strength of emotion the story evokes. I set out to write a ghost story; I seem to have ended up with something more.

But for all its positive reviews, the book is floundering under the sheer volume of competition. It barely sells. My efforts at self-promotion are, frankly, feeble. I’m not very good at it and never will be. I have no idea how to reach the readership that I have to believe is out there waiting to discover my books.

Maybe now I won’t have to find out how. Something amazing happened totally out of the blue about two weeks ago: I was contacted by a publisher. A small, independent publisher based in Florida, that had read both my books, felt they deserved to sell a lot more than they currently are selling and offered to publish and market them. My excitement was tempered by wariness. I’ve read so many sorry tales of aspiring authors being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous, so-called publishers who make money by charging the writer exorbitant fees for editing, cover-design and marketing, then price the books at such ridiculously-high prices that nobody buys them, forcing the writer to pay through the nose to buy back the book’s rights.

I awaited the contract with a knot in my stomach – if it contained such terms, I would be compelled to reject it: my big chance, perhaps my only chance, gone. To my astonishment, it didn’t. For a complete unknown like me, it seemed perfectly reasonable (apart from one clause that the publisher readily agreed to amend to something I was happy with). So I signed.

Hence the reason I’ve called this the “…Final Part.” I can drop the ‘self’ from ‘self-published author’. Still pinching myself…

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thatcher’s Passing

Well the great lady has gone but much of her legacy remains. The UK is a better and more prosperous place for her having led the country back from the shambles of the then Labour government. Some reading this blog will be old enough to remember: the winter of discontent, rubbish piling up in the streets; bodies unburied, the motor industry in crisis, unremitting strikes and Squeaking Pips Denis Healey going cap in hand to the IMF (International Monetary fund). Before that Edwards Heath's abject battle with the miners’ union who though they should run the government rather than the elected government of the day resulting in the three day week which did untold damage to the economy of ordinary families and the country. That was the mess she inherited. Thatcher achievement are too numerous to fully list her but significant are for example defeating the miners led by a leader with a revolutionary political agenda, allowing ordinary people to buy their own homes from the council, contributing to the final collapse of the Soviet Union and encouraging people to take responsibility for their own lives and opportunities rather than depending on the state to provide. Thatcher is recognised across the world for the great leader she was. Yes she made mistake but who doesn’t. As is inevitable at such a time as this all the cheap jibes and jokes have come to the fore many from people who were not even around at the time, but they count for nothing for one only has to look to the source of such nonsense. I could go on but I am not expecting much agreement on this blog so goodbye and Rest in Peace Mrs Thatcher. Clark Kent

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Witch-Queen is Dead

People say you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. This may be generally true but THATCHER put herself so far beyond the pale that normal rules don't apply. She may now be far beyond having any power to inflict further damage but she put herself so far beyond normality that its rules don't apply. She may be dead but she remains a symbol of all that is evil with our society. The only shame is that her death wasn't several decades earlier.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Mad Pessimism

On the radio today I heard someone talking about what amounted to an informal survey he'd conducted on Twitter. He made no pretence of this being a scientific study, but given that he'd 'interviewed' around 2000 people the results were interesting. He'd asked questions aimed at determining the level of optimism in these 2000 people.

His general view of the responses he found he described as 'mad optimism'.

As he said himself, Twitter users can't be classed as a typical cross-section of the community. I couldn't help thinking that if he'd conducted his informal among the movers and shakers - people in the financial and business worlds, politicians etc - he'd have summed the typical response as 'mad pessimism'.

These were the very people who've got the World in a slump by their unrealistic optimism in the first place. Not until they recover their sanity will the present downward trends be reversed.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Walking on Eggshells – Adventures in Self-Publishing

So, I wrote a bunch of short stories and a couple of novels. Some of the short stories were published in small press magazines. Many more were rejected. I accumulated a file of rejections for the novels from agents and publishers. They say that a writer needs a thick skin. Well, mine wasn’t thick enough. I gave up.

Then the Kindle and the e-book self-publishing revolution came along. I didn’t even notice. Until I received a Kindle last Christmas. Even then, it took me months to appreciate the opportunities that were now open to a writer with a collection of scribblings sitting on the hard drive of his computer.

In August, I bundled ten short stories together into a collection that I named after one of the stories: Pond Life. Taking a deep breath, I published the collection for the Kindle on Amazon under a pseudonym. Once I’d worked out how to format the book, it was a doddle. It even has a professional cover designed by a kindly artist in return for a credit on the inside and a link to her website on my Facebook page.

Okay. My book was there, but then what was I supposed to do? I’ve read that there are in excess of a million self-published books on Amazon alone. There are numerous other self-publishing sites. How does an unknown become noticed in that sort of crowd?

I visited the Amazon discussion forums (or fora, if you’d prefer). There are a bewildering number, containing a bewildering number of threads, many of which contain tens of thousands of comments (posts). Daunting does not do it justice. I spent hour upon hour reading through threads, skimming thousands of posts, seeking advice on how to promote my book.

There’s a heck of a lot of advice out there. Not all of it good. But I managed to extract what I felt to be the worthy advice: join in discussions on the forums, have your own website, publish more books, join the Amazon programme that allows limited free book promotions.

Well, I joined the programme and have held one free promotional day thus far. Around sixty free copies of my book were downloaded, most in the States. That’s not many, but I learned a lot and should do better next time. I don’t yet have my own website, but have registered a domain name. And I’m rewriting the first novel (it was written over ten years ago and a rewrite is much needed) with the aim of publishing it in December. So that just leaves the forums. And that’s where the allusion to walking on eggshells comes in.

The Amazon Discussion Forums are essentially divided into two parts: those where writers can promote their work and those where they can’t. And woe betide a writer who self-promotes in the wrong forum. The outcome can be carnage. Some readers keep NRA lists (Never Read Authors). It has been known for authors to have their books subjected to scathing reviews from reviewers disgruntled at what an author has posted on the forums. Even mentioning that you are a writer in the wrong place can lead to withering attacks.

And not all authors behave professionally. There are threads devoted to the antics of what are labelled BBA (Badly Behaving Authors). Sometimes this label is deserved. 

So do I regret jumping headlong into the shark-infested self-publishing sea? Not for one moment. It’s been fun and exciting and I’ve ‘met’ some friendly and talented people in cyberspace. I’ve had a short story featured on another author’s website. I’ve had the same story published in an anthology that, as I write, is in the top 100 Science-fiction Anthologies. I’ve started to garner reviews: thankfully, all positive so far. Someone even wants to interview me for her blog. It may not be much, but it’s a start and I’m hungry for more.

Now to get that first novel published…

Sunday, 4 November 2012


I have no wish to add to the mountain of words written about Sir Jim of Fixit. He deserves all the abuse now being heaped upon him. No wonder his family have seen fit to try to hide his corpse.
But surely our sleb culture must take some of the blame. It was only because he was seen, and saw himself, as beyond the standards of other people that he was allowed to get away with his crimes for so many years.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


Even the grumpiest of us (this includes me much of the time) have to acknowledge that Saturday, 4th August was a phenomenal day for British sport.

But one unfortunate side-effect is the increased intrusion of sleb culture into politics. It was bad enough when a few appearances on HIGNFY made Buffoon Boris London Mayor (one appearance on HIGNFY is worth twenty election broadcasts) but now he's being touted as successor PM in increasingly desperate Tory circles. Someone, somewhere is hoping an emotional link will be made between golden locks and gold medals.

The irony is that Boris didn't win one gold medal (can you imagine?) any more than his soon-to-be predecessor won a General Election.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

in my Hayday

Two lectures, similar messages.  What did A.C. Grayling and Mario Vargas Llosa have in common?  The desire to "Let Anarchy Rule!"  Or words to that effect.  Grayling's talk was entitled "Reading and Thinking", about the formative function of literature whereby we form and organise our response to the world through the lens of literature.  Reflective reading as opposed to light entertainment or diversion.  When asked about his views on the effect of Facebook, Twitter and e-books on the state of the nation's literacy, he was positive; his view is that ideas, stories, reflections are the main thing regardless of the medium, and he reminded the audience of the oral/aural traditions of the past.  As for any form of control over literature on the web?  An emphatic 'no', which was the link between him and Vargas, for whom freedom is vital.  Safeguards over the internet should be minimal, he said.  Vargas was asked his view on literature and politics and expressed it most neatly; we can use politics as raw material for literature, but the other way round and it becomes propaganda.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Unreality TV

I usually avoid these programmes. You know, the SCJ (So-called Celebrities in Jeopardy) or DW (Desperate Wannabies) shows. But my family laps them up and so I can’t avoid them altogether without also avoiding my family.
I have a general rule of thumb: if a programme is presented by Plank and Dick, it’s going to be bad. My wife can’t understand this. She thinks that everyone should find their cheeky-chappy northern banter endearing. Me, I just find them irritating and wish they’d go back to Tyneside and stay there. Still, each to their own.
I happened to be in the living room last night while the latest DW show was on. It was the final of Britain’s Got Talent and seemed to come down to a choice between a boy’s choir from Wales, a 17-year-old Pavarotti sound-alike and a performing dog. It was over to the Great British Public to decide. That’s you and me. You must have voted for the dog, because I didn’t and it won.
That’s the Great British Public for you. No matter how good the human acts are, throw a cute dog into the mix and the dog will win every time. We shouldn’t be surprised. This, after all, is the nation whose charity to prevent cruelty to animals has royal patronage and whose charity to prevent cruelty to children doesn’t.
Well, good luck to the dog, though I can’t see it benefitting from the usual rewards – recording contracts and suchlike – that winners of these shows enjoy. Maybe the Great British Public will pack out Wembley to see the dog do its thing. But it will have to be you, since it certainly won’t be me.