Get Ready to Rodeo!

Serioisly cool flash fiction contest with real prizes and no entry fee. Get your pens out people. And pass it on!!!

Source: Get Ready to Rodeo!

Posted in miscellany | 2 Comments

House or Home #1000speak @1000speak

This feels as relevant today as it did 2 years ago when I wrote it. Possibly more so post Brexit

Source: House or Home #1000speak @1000speak

Posted in miscellany | 2 Comments

In Memoriam – Sam Harper 1989 to 2013

It is three years since I wrote this and a reminder popped into my inbox today. The Lawyer is abroad just now so I can’t give him the hug I’d like to. So this is for him and all his friends who I know still miss Sam HB. We do well to treasure all our memories

Source: In Memoriam – Sam Harper 1989 to 2013

Posted in miscellany | 5 Comments

Buster & Moo by Geoff Le Pard @geofflepard

Well what a lovely surprise this is. Thank you so much Jo.

Source: Buster & Moo by Geoff Le Pard @geofflepard

Posted in miscellany | 3 Comments

Dead Flies And Sherry Trifle #sequel #secondsequel


I’ve been a bit absent recently, mostly due to a rather spiffing holiday and some bloginertia that followed. But I haven’t been idle. Far from it. I’ve been writing and reading and writing some more. All of this is to finish the sequel to Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. And it’s done. A solid lump of more Harry Spittle.

For those who read book one, we leave Harry in 1976, having survived a gruesome summer of drugs, and threats and torment, with him just about to consummate his desire for Penny. It’s been a roller coaster and poor Harry deserves some peace.

Well, I’m a bloody writer, aren’t I? Am I going to give him peace? The hell of it!

Moving on 5 years, it is 1981. Mrs T has her feet under the table and on the throats of the unions. Harry is now living in London and approaching the end of his legal training (and, no, this book isn’t autobiographical). His relationship with Penny has stalled, his job is boring and he fears he may never make it as a lawyer. Everything about work is intimidating, but especially the two senior secretaries, Edith and Jean.

And then, on sultry afternoon in June, back into his life walks Sven Andersen, the supercilious know-all from Harry’s days at Hemingways, the hotel. Sven’s father, Robin was a local Hampshire crook; we last heard of him when Harry, accidentally, had a hand in filling his car with silage as Andersen Père tried to escape the police. Sven wants – no needs – a Will and he needs it now. Why? And how does this tie into the other Will Harry is preparing for aristocratic old boy, Sir Penshaw Grimsdale, Bt?

It is up to Harry to answer these questions which will mean he is about to have yet another ghastly summer. We will meet some old faces: Natalie, Harry’s object of desire; Dobbin his best friend; Harry’s family and the Ohjas their old guests; and, of course, Stephen McNoble and his father Charlie Jepson. We will also encounter some new ones: Jeremy Panther and Lucinda Plum-Wardle, partners in the firm where Harry works; Miles Tupps, Natalie’s estate agent husband; and Dobbin’s love interest, lead singer with the punk band, the Twats, Vera Copula.

Well, you don’t have long to wait. With some serious editing and some beta reading help, I should be able to consider publication in time for your Christmas stockings (or maybe a little after… we’ll see).

It’s coming soon…

The Last Will of Sven Andersen

And if that’s not exciting enough, I plan to chisel out a goodly chunk of book three of the Spittle Sagas during this year’s Nano. Set in 1987, Harry is ensconced in his new law firm and in the running for a partnership. He’s not entirely sure why or indeed how he’s got himself to this potentially exalted position, but things are looking pretty good. And then he uncovers a secret which, if revealed could undermine the whole firm and leave him jobless, career-less and a pariah in the City. And if that isn’t bad enough, domestically things are looking grim and a few old faces re-emerge just in time to make the bad look infinitely worse.

Provisionally titled

Booms and Busts

you’ll need to watch this space…

If you’ve not read Dead Flies you can get it here

Amazon UK

And if anyone enjoyed Dead Flies, or indeed if anyone welcomes some thrills and spills and a laugh or two on the way and would like to Beta Read The Last Will of Sven Andersen, I’d be delighted to hear from you (and happy to reciprocate, of course). In terms of timing, I am looking at providing the book in early October with a view to having comments back by the end of October. If you are interested leave a comment or let me know by email at GLEPARD(AT)SAQNET.CO.UK

Posted in Books | Tagged , | 14 Comments

National Treasures #dunkirk #graysonperry

(images from my trip to the Serpentine gallery)

If you want an object that’s a national Treasure you’d do worse than a Rolls Royce – especially if it sells ice cream…

Is it just the Brits or do all nations collect National Treasures with such zealousness, bordering on the obsessive.

For those not in the know these are not objects, artefacts or grand architectural masterpieces, let alone historic monuments of which we have many. No, these are of the human kind, they are all living and they are usually aged.

She never made it to national Treasure status, maybe she never would have but there has to be a sense that Princess Di had the makings…

Maybe it is the reverence with which we purport to regard things, a throwback to the (halcyon) days of absolute monarchy and religious observances, to class and place. Even in today’s celebrity paradise where fame can arise simply by having a social media account and a way with selfies, we can identify, amongst the chaff, a number of worthy candidates who, generally, are held in the sort of regard that avoids the tall poppy decapitations that other, prospective candidates will have to endure. It is not that they are scandal proof, merely that the scandals have to be of seismic proportions to shake the foundations of their Treasurehood.

Maybe our glorious obsession with parks gives them a Treasured status? I still think the Treasurehood is a people thing

And the involvement of a Treasure in a project is usually a guarantee of decent reviews or maybe better reviews than would otherwise flow to the piece or performance. Roll out a Treasure to front a charity gig and you’re guaranteed a better return than otherwise.

This was brought home to me recently by two events.

First I went to see Dunkirk. The reviews weren’t special but they all said that Mark Rylance’s performance was stellar.

Ken Branagh did a turn as a sailor and Harry Styles, he of a minor musical majesty with One Direction was surprisingly good.

Recently I saw Churchill and later in the year another Churchillian piece of cinematography will hit our screens. So Rylance is already a Treasure – he has a gong and a long list of splendid credits from stage and increasingly screen. Branagh less so but there’s still time – if he hadn’t divorced Emma Thompson , another nearly Treasure, he might be there already. Styles isn’t and thus scandal might yet undermine him but this is a good start. But what of the War? It’s beginning to feel, if it wasn’t already true that this fixation with those grim and glorious six years is some form of National Treasure.  Appear in a film of the War and it’s a tick in the box.

The film? It was ok. The time lines were disjointed, the Spitfire scenes relatively unbelievable and clunky – there’s one section when the last Spitfire, out of fuel and about to land on the beach at Dunkirk flies low along the shoreline. It was obviously staged, maybe some green screen. It felt like something from a 1960s blockbuster. And the story itself so well known that nothing new, no new insights were revealed. Part of me, brought up on the rightness of the fight, the heroics of the flotilla of little boats turning a clear defeat into some sort of glorious withdrawal, cheered but another part wondered at the French, defending the withdrawal with little hope that they would get away. Weren’t they the heroes here? Really? Oh well, I think I’m tired of the expectations that we should keep cheering these narrow parts of our past without seeing a wider perspective – how the hell the generals got us into such a mess for instance. But still, there’s always a Treasure to keep our spirits high.

Maybe I didn’t go for it in a  big way was because we had the ice cream at home, having been ripped off the last time. It’s not the same, whatever we told ourselves…

that’s me, despairing as I consider yet another applicant to Treasure status…

The second event was an Art exhibition. A few years ago – a very few indeed – and a man who likes to dress as a woman would be the last person who would be elevated to Treasure status. Ditto a gay man. Stephen Fry is a Treasure and so is Grayson Perry. Articulate, happy to explore their own weaknesses – Fry’s dissection of his bi-polar disorder was a powerful  and painful piece of TV – we embrace them, at a certain level of wonder, and we thus congratulate ourselves on our tolerance. Yes, we say, we can have such people as Treasures. Are we tolerant? Maybe.

There are some people of colour appearing in the Treasurehood these days – Sir Trevor MacDonald maybe; Lenny Henry? Not many black women outside of the sporting sphere – Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Jessica Ennis. Not many Muslims for sure. A fair few women though – Helen Mirren, Julie Waters to name two.

I know, I know this is so subjective and you may well have additions and deletions that will (I hope) fill the comments. But the grand thing about Grayson joining the Treasurehood is we get exhibitions like that at the Serpentine Gallery.

It just stops you and makes you think – about belonging and masculinity and all sorts of elements that make up society. And he has an extraordinary way, for one so patently out of kilter with any sort of standard set of  behaviours, in engaging people from all walks of life.

He oozes empathy with a curious intellect.

Some time ago, following the success of the British Museum’s History of the World in 100 objects they invited Grayson to select objects from their collection and interpret them, look at the craftspeople behind them.

Have a look at what he came up with

I spent two hours thinking, pondering, reassessing.

Unlike with Dunkirk, I reviewed rather than viewed.

A Treasure reinforcing his status rather than propping up a old conceit.

That’s what Treasurers should do.

Use your place to take the envelope and don’t just push it: kick it down the road.

Though so far  as the Top Treasure is concerned, just carrying on being. Sir David Attenborough will never be replaced.

Posted in art, Film, miscellany, thought piece | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Feline Dentistry #mondayssuck

Posted in pets | 9 Comments