Just a Thought #ageingdisgracefully

‘…. and then there’s my hip…’

I managed a nod. I tried to add a smile but at best it was rueful, at worst gas-backed. Some of my friends are ageing well both physically and mentally, some one and not the other. But even those who catalogue their accomplishments on road and court with unseemly relish know that, sooner rather than later:

  • that the something that gives is not her resistance but your back;
  • that when the light shines from your eyes it is caused not by your ardour but the reflection from the optician’s torch;
  • that the hair you had as a teenager is still there only differently distributed; and
  • that what once caused rapture now leads to rupture.

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Posted in age, humour, miscellany | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Pokemon: a confession #embarassed

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You may have caught the news of the new must have, a sort of An App A Day  bit of fluff – Pokemon Go – which has just been released in the UK. It is creating some noise. It’s a computer game where the app takes you outside hunting Pokemon, the phone beaming an image of the Pokemon when you find them I believe – as will become apparent I haven’t looked that closely at the detail.

And it is controversial. On the one hand it has some very desirable effects. You see, this latest plaything was brought to my attention by Elizabeth Barnes who blogs set Autism Mom. She has been singing this app’s praises as it has encouraged her son to leave his beloved computer screen and head off outside.


But two people have fallen off cliffs following their targets

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the Holocaust museum has asked people not to use it inside and in one case this child’s plaything has ended up taking people into a sex shop

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But just reading the word Pokemon  brings a shudder. You see, Pokemon and I have a history.

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Posted in family, holidays, humour, miscellany | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments

The Politics of Eves #writephoto #shortstory

sue vincent oven

 This week’s #writephoto prompt has the above picture. As for the story that follows, it is a touch longer then usual and, erm, odd. Not sure what sort of cheese I’ve been eating…

Dan led his son, Gad, away from the trestle table where the Eves kneaded man-yeast into their dough. ‘You know son, I’m done with all this begatting.  It’s taking its toll. My beard is beginning to lose its lustre. Next year you’ll have to take over. Now grab that bag and let’s go.’

Gad looked back at the Eves. He would be begatting with them! How cool was that. ‘Where are we going, Dan, son of Barry, son of….’

‘It’s dad, son, when we’re outside. You’ll find it exhausting otherwise.’

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Posted in #writephoto, prompt, short story | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Anger Management #flashfiction #carrotranch

July 13, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the emotion of anger. You can express it without naming it, or write a story about it. Challenge yourself to think about how we accept or deny anger. Is there a warning? Is there a resolution? You can write humorously, seriously or ironically about anger.

Faux Pas 

Mary jumped at the sound of broken china followed by incoherent rage. Moments later her husband appeared.

Mary sighed. ‘What’s happened?’ Her mother-in-law was staying and things hadn’t gone well.

‘She’s not used to spicy food, right? Well, it seems last night’s curry caused a bit of an upset stomach.’ Paul paused.

Mary waited, knowing there was more.

‘She had a slight accident and was worried that you might find out and think badly of her. I told her not to be so silly.’

‘What exactly did you say? I’m guessing you’re paraphrasing.’

‘I said ‘shit happens’.’

‘Oh Paul…’

You can catch up here with Mary and her family


Posted in flash fiction, miscellany, prompt, short story | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

A Reminder about Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle #Comedybookweek

humor_book comedy book week

Just a reminder to those interested, my first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, is now free on Kindle for 5 days between 18th and 22nd July as part of Comedy Book Week. It is also free on Smashwords.

I’m also giving away a signed copy of the paperback version of Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle to the first ten people to email me at glepard <at> saqnet <dot> c0 <dot> uk (you’ll need to be happy to let me have an address to send it to you, but I will pay the postage). All I ask is you consider an honest review somewhere on Planet Earth: Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, your bathroom mirror – anywhere with the widest reading audience you can reach.

You can find out about Comedy Book Week here. It is an annual event so please considering signing up to the newsletter for news of the next one.

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle

is a comedy, a coming of age story with bundles of humour. 

DEAD FLIES 3 cover ben boost v 2

This is the blurb

It’s summer 1976 and hotter than Hades Harry Spittle, nineteen, is home from university, aiming to earn some money to go on holiday and maybe get laid. He expects he will be bored rigid, but the appearance of old family friend, Charlie Jepson, his psychopathic son, Claude, and predatory wife Monica changes that. As his parents’ marriage implodes, Harry’s problems mount; before he knows it he’s in debt up to his ears and dealing in drugs. Things go from bad to worse when he is stabbed. He needs money fast, but now his job is at risk, his sister is in trouble and he has discovered a family secret that could destroy all he holds dear. The only way out appears to require that Harry joins forces with the local criminal mastermind. Can Harry survive to see out the summer? Can he save his family? Can he regain some credibility and self-respect? Most importantly will he finally get laid?

And this one of the reviews:

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle starts at a cracking pace and bowls the reader along with the force of its narrative. Student Harry Spittle finds himself in the middle of a web (no pun intended!) of missing boxes, a bullying thug and his slimy father and drug smuggling. Set in the blistering summer of 1976, Harry gets himself a job at a hotel that’s slightly past its best, with a staff of violent lunatics, a peeping tom and students trying to earn a crust and sunbathe in safety. Harry finds himself in situations way out of his depth as his parents fight, his younger sister is in love and the cat turns psychotic. There’s also a pumpkin thief on the loose. This is a laugh-out-loud novel that also manages to tackle some serious issues sensitively as it hurtles along to its uproarious conclusion.

Thank you to-be readers. You won’t be disappointed. And there is a sequel in the pipeline…

Posted in miscellany, writing | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Anne Goodwin: Sugar and Snails – One Year On

Anne goodwin birthday blog tour final

Anne has been something of a hero for me, not least because she led me into blogging. Her first book, Sugar and Snails is one year old and we are going to celebrate, if only Anne will come out from her introverted shell. But as you’ll see, being an introvert is no excuse not to have fun. Maybe I’m an introvert too. Now wouldn’t that be a turn up?

anne goodwin book tour

Warning: introverted writer at large

This summer, my colleagues at my voluntary job were initially very understanding when I said I might not make the next shift, given that it fell immediately after a trip up north to launch my debut novel. Of course, they said, you might not be back in time. I’ll be back, I said, but I’ll probably need some quiet time after all the excitement. They looked puzzled. When I explained I was an introvert, they looked more puzzled still. They couldn’t understand how someone so friendly and chatty could be one of those.

Confusion abounds about what it means to be an introvert, even among those who strongly identify as such. To my understanding, however, shyness and social withdrawal are side effects of a more fundamental difference between introverts and extroverts in terms of whether we are drained or energised by social interaction. When I explained to my colleagues that introverts aren’t necessarily less sociable, but need time alone to recover, a couple mentioned that they were like that too. I felt like a missionary gaining another convert for the quiet revolution, a movement geared towards celebrating the reflective qualities of introverts.

With my background in psychology, I’ve come across a fair few personality questionnaires, some of which leave a lot to be desired. But the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which assesses introversion/extraversion along with three other dimensions of personality, is one of the more respected. There is a simpler, and free, Quiet Revolution Personality Test, which must be okay since it correctly categorised me as an introvert (!)

There can’t be a better job for an introvert than a writer: a fine excuse for retreating into one’s own head. Alone at my keyboard in the daytime, sitting reading a novel at night, going out and actually meeting people becomes a treat. It’s perhaps no surprise that I’ve written a novel that features an introvert, a prickly character with a secret to hide. But the days when writers wrote and someone else handled the publicity are long gone. How does the shrinking violet promote her work?

Of course, the internet takes care of some of it; it doesn’t feel so exposing strutting about in the virtual world. But we still need to get out there signing copies of our books. I did wonder how I’d cope, whether I’d claim my authorial authority or sit cringing, hoping no-one would notice I was there.

Public speaking wasn’t entirely new to me; I’d done some lecturing and conference presentations in my previous job. But I’d always been nervous standing up before an audience. In fact, the first time I spoke about my research in a small seminar I actually fainted. Fiction is so much more personal than academic work; would it be even harder to talk about my novel?

It turns out it’s been a sheer pleasure. Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached that point in my life where my needs for solitude and interaction are well-balanced. Perhaps it’s because a published novel has been subjected to so many edits, there’s little chance of tripping up over the prose. Whatever the reason, I relish the opportunity to appear in public to read from my work.

Yet there came a point at the party hosted by a friend after the formal launch, when I needed that off-switch. Ignoring everyone else, I sat at the dining table, grazing on the dregs of the buffet meal. But that was okay. After a good night’s sleep I was revitalised and able to surprise my colleagues when I turned up for my regular Sunday shift.

anne goodwin book tour 2


Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and longlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for publication in May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 60 published short stories. Catch up on her website: annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist.

In honour of its first birthday, Sugar and Snails is available in Kindle format at only £0.99 / $0.99 until 31 July 2016.

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sugar-Snails-Anne-Goodwin/dp/1908600470/

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Snails-Anne-Goodwin/dp/1908600470/

Posted in Books, miscellany, novels, writing | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Going Underground: why underground stations can make me smile #architecture #artdeco

Warning: don’t be offended by the clip at the end but it is VERY rude so should you not like to hear certain words that have a long Anglo Saxon history but have recently been found to cause a degree of Oh Ahhs among a certain strata of society ignore it!

I wrote a post the other day about Leytonstone station and the homage to Alfred Hitchcock, here. That made me think about some of my favourite underground stations. Mostly we walk in, ignoring the infrastructure, because we know the experience we are about to endure is, well, unendurable. Yet a pause to glance around can be worthwhile.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favs.

Gants Hill

There’s nothing to write home about here, so far as the outside is concerned (it’s part of a roundabout) but descend to platform level and the interior is well worth the effort. It’s designed by Charles Holden who had a thing about the Moscow Metro (he worked as a consultant on it apparently) and the Soviet Era feel permeates the place;  you kind of expect to see a man in a trilby hat being chased by men in dark homburgs while saving the empire or some such.

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Here the outside has a nice bricky art deco feel but the lights on the escalators are what grab me.

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Arnos Grove and Bounds Green

Still on the northern extension of the Piccadilly Line, here we have a stunning art deco exterior, if you like that sort of thing.

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The Strand

Of course this one is shut but it is an example of the Metroland style popularised by Sir John Betjeman which appeals to me as much for the Thomas the Tank engine kind of sensation as its actual merit.

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South Kensington

Possibly it is because it services our wonderful museums that I enjoy this one, but the iron work and cosy feel make me want to enter even when it’s packed to the rafters.

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Mornington Crescent

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Why here you may ask? Nothing to do with the station or its place in the Pantheon of architectural masterpieces (it is lovely but that’s not the point) but everything to do with the panel game of the same name. Here are some rules, and here are some of the exceptions.

Here’s an example (this isn’t the rude clip)

Finally, this song, based on the Jam’s famous punk era classic ‘Going Underground’, is the antithesis of a paean of praise for our magnificent tube system but, for some commuters, will resonate, especially if you have ever been forced to spend thirty minutes or more with your nose stuck into someone’s less than fragrant armpit because the bloody drivers are on strike again.

Posted in buildings, miscellany, transport, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 38 Comments