International Rescue (South London) branch

Two years ago we were gearing up for the first Bloggers Bash and I found myself proving the power of the three, as set out in this post. This year everyone is Wonder Woman and multiple rescues are becoming the expectation rather than the exception. Personally I still think the rule of three is in force but see what you think.

Source: International Rescue (South London) branch

Posted in miscellany | 2 Comments

Cake Not Hate – a walk and some thoughts #london #walking #lookingforthesilverlinings

Father’s day here coincided with a series of events to show the sunny side of humanity, in the spirit and memory of murdered MP Jo Cox and at the end of a dreadful week in the UK and especially London following the appalling fire at Grenville House.

For various reasons I was alone, well Dog and me. The weather was forecast to be seriously hot for hereabouts – 31C they said, which is at least 5 degrees above sensible for anywhere near London.

So we had a choice – stay inside and find shade or sod it and go walking.

Not really a choice when those doleful eyes are on you. We caught a train towards Richmond but the connections sort of died from terminal inertia, or inertia at the terminal, at Clapham Junction so we took an executive decision, bought a sausage roll for lunch and headed out towards a string of commons that lead home over six miles, starting with Wandsworth Common.

It’s a superficially bland strip, with barely an undulation and bordered by a busy road one side and a railway the other.

But it does have trees and, on a day when pausing to smell the coffee/diesel/picnics/jogger’s-sweat seemed sensible given the unrelenting heat, taking in the sweep of the fully laden canopies made sense.

We don’t spend enough time staring at trees, I thought. Nature’s high-rises, home to countless families with the same fragile, easily destroyed-through-ignorance-and-indifference vulnerability as Grenville. I don’t intend by this thought to try and make any sort of glib comparison but we can so easily ignore the unheard, whether it be marginalised families or scraps of the natural world.

Across the railway there are ponds and people enjoying the ducklings and moorhen chicks.

London is out and about, sitting and reading, playing desultory games, or exercising furiously – basically doing whatever London wants to do, without a care.

A simple part of human dignity, that ability to choose to do or not do, to engage or to ignore.

I stopped before crossing Belle Vue Road and watched two comfortably covered men boxing. They sweated and grunted and laughed and sweated some more. Next to them, a few feet away a woman read the newspaper while her friend sought the perfect angle to tan an exposed sliver of shoulder; a small boy squatted in that way children have that our use of chairs has made us forget, all the time contemplating the deep meaning of dust, as he stirred it with a  stick.

Dog stuck out his tongue and then peed, his own contribution to a tableau that was both mundane and beautiful.

I hurried on, wanting to leave the morbidity of my tendency to dwell on the news coming into my ears via a news bulletin. The drear focus on politics just now is wearisome and utterly unrepresentative of the humanity about me which wanted nothing more than to take some simple pleasure, have a break from the bigger picture.

Why does the news have that bit more tonnage just now? Are we not entitled to a silly season, when papers are filled with sand-encrusted urchins besmeared with ice cream as a fountain splashes in the background because there is nothing else to report? If fake news comprised dolphins rescuing puppies I’d sign up.

Next up is Tooting Bec, a sprawly place with more shrubs and as many by now pink poached torsos. I lost myself for a while, sharing with Dog a bottle of water and the aforementioned sausage roll (he had the meat, I had the pastry) and an apple.

I needed a pee and not having Dog’s indifference to social convention I dived into a tangle of sallow and brambles to find some privacy. While there a small piping voice startled me with: ‘What’s that man doing, mummy?’

Fearing at the least a scowl of glacial frostiness or the possibility of arrest I hastened to leave only to be confronted by a mother and son staring at a tall, elderly gentleman standing on his head in some complex yoga pose. I left them to their entertainment, hoping that was what had engaged the young voyeur’s attention.

The final sward is Streatham Common after we passed the Moorish palace that is the Wandsworth Water Works – a piece of Victoriana that never ceases to please me, both for the sheer chutzpah of the company that built it and the fact it is still in use for its designated purpose – a pumping station – today.

Streatham Common is on a  slope allowing for a range of hurtling games for the overheated youth. But it also has a rather good cafe at the top. Dog supped some handily provided water that looked manky but then again manky is his preference while I procured a coffee. As I sat and sipped I noticed two marquees one with this slogan on the side.

I could hardly not explore. The stall was run by a mix of locals, from the pot pourri of cultures that make up South London’s residents. A smiling lady in a hijab told me the cakes were free and wouldn’t take anything for them. They came in a box ‘with a lot of peace’.

I stopped and chatted. Jo Cox’s name was mentioned as the stimulus but also Grenville and the disbelief that something like that could so easily happen hereabouts.

It’s very easy to be both disheartened by events or uplifted by ordinary people’s reactions to them. I think we all know it is futile to expect ‘never again’, to realise while humans make decisions impacting other people without those people being properly engaged such things will blight us. I also think we can take some comfort from the countless small kindnesses that occur each and every day that make city living tolerable.

We walked on, now both sweaty and in need of that shade we had forsworn 2.5 hours earlier. We shared a cake on the way – delicious – and smiled at everyone we passed. Some smiled back; others assumed I was on some sort of day release and hurried by. But that’s fine, too. After all there are many versions of normal and we need to accommodate all of them, give them a voice, even if that voice is merely a randomly given smile.

Happy Father’s Day, world, from a very happy father. And Dog.

This is part of Jo’s Monday walks which you can follow here.


Posted in London, philosophy, ponds, thought, walking | Tagged , , , , , , | 42 Comments

A good news day

There are days when you wake to a bit of grey cloud, when the hot water takes an age to run, when the toaster seems to have reset itself to a light char setting and the milk is on the cusp of dodgy. When the dog’s lead refuses to clip and I’m out of poo bags. The drizzle starts and I’ve left my hat behind and I don’t see the loose paving stone which sends dirty water up my trousers.

All first world issues, but all prone to take the gloss off a day. So when, on Friday I heard, within 5 minutes of each other that (a) the Vet had passed her finals and was now a fully fledged Veterinarian Doctor and (b) the Lawyer had been offered the job he wants when he qualifies in September I must say any and all the above or any combination would not have mattered in the slightest. After all we can be proud of our offspring and their achievements but when both come up with such success, well, it feels as if my work is done!

Posted in family, miscellany | Tagged , | 34 Comments

A wave of problems #writephoto

Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt this week is

Science is wonderful at theorising. The dinosaurs died out because of an asteroid strike off the coast of Mexico. Krakatoa’s appearance led to a mini ice age. And so on. When an exceptionally large Tsunami appeared in the middle of a previously docile Pacific the men of science scratched cue-ball pates and donned white coats as they called for satellite imagery to assist them in unpicking Mother Nature’s latest conundrum.
Meanwhile another mother was equally vexed.
‘Horace, where in all Olympus are you?’
Athena felt a thunderbolt itching along her fingers and closed her fist; it had been a long day and leaving Atlas in charge of their son was clearly not a success.
The hunky god put his head around the portal. ‘Hello darling. Home so soon?’
‘Have you seen what he’s gone and done now?’
Atlas maintained a smile of sorts but the volcanic look in his wife’s eyes suggested he might be wise to postpone the pie, pint and game of dead planet toss which he’d hoped she’d let him go to for a day’s child care. ‘He was outside with his chimera. He said he was teaching it to eat its tail.’
‘Well look over there, oh attentive father. See that world you bought him? Earth? See what he’s done?’
Atlas peered. ‘Is that…?’
‘Yes. Horace seems to have used that big ocean to bath his bloody pet. Can you begin to imagine the chaos? Uncle Zeus will go bonkers when he finds out. It’ll mean another week of bloody sacrifices and you know he’s allergic to burnt goat.’
‘Ah. Yes. Well… what should I do?’
‘I think this might be a good time to finish cleaning the Augean stables once and for all, don’t you?’

Posted in #writephoto, creative writing, flash fiction, prompt | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

Buster & Moo

So the Bloggers Bash is over for another year, the summer holidays are approaching and you are wondering how you will fill those unremitting hours of sunshine. Okay, it’s England. A couple of hours of sunshine.

I bring you tidings of joy unconfined, peeps.

I bring you

Buster & Moo

The finest of fine new books. Now available on pre-order here, the latest Le Pard novel can be in your hands or on your kindle (or other reading machine) on 15th July.

Here’s the blurb

With their relationship under pressure, is adopting a dog the best decision for Mervin and Landen? As they adapt to fit the animal into their busy lives a chance encounter with Dave and Sheri, the dog’s previous owners, develops into something more and the newfound friendship is tested to the limits.

Life is complicated when Landen loses her job following the discovery of her affair with a colleague and then she becomes involved in a police investigation into alleged money laundering and drug dealing at her old firm. She tries desperately to keep the sordid truth from Mervin as events begin to spiral out of control.

As the four lives overlap and criss-cross the one constant is their shared love of the dog named Moo. But the problems mount up. While Sheri and Mervin grow close as they struggle to help each other, it is the unlikely alliance between Sheri and Landen that leads to the dramatic climax. However, there is only room for one hero in this story – who will it be?

This is where you can find your copy.

Also available here


And, my good readers, as an incentive to lie still and read a load, I’ve made all my books

Yes all my books

free as you breathe in this post from 14th July to 18th July. You’ll find them here, via my author pages

Smashwords (where you set the price – even better, I guess that means I pay you)

And yes, people, you can grab the paperback version too. You’ll find it where you want it, on that old author page. Just go ahead and download – you know it makes sense.

I’ll be popping upon a few other blogs, guest posting like a good ‘un, and some lovely people will be popping out reviews too so watch this space for those details.

Posted in Books, miscellany | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Of geese and coffee cups #poem #poetry

I inhabit a space
The Unknown
The Misunderstood.

In a continuum
Of blinks
Only one matters.

All past blinks are as one;
All future blinks are but practice dreams.
The one that matters
Is the twitch of a muscle,
A slide of skin,
A pucker of flesh.

I can repeat but not relive, nor anticipate.

The bubble
In the froth
On the surface
Of my coffee
The Present.

Before this moment
It might have
Flown in,
Who knows its past.

It’s future
Is even more
How long before it

It is beauty,
A present present,
In the curve of its
In the opalescence
Of its sheen,
In the delicacy
Of its construction,
In the ineffable simplicity
Of its physics.
It is its own moment and

I look to the honking heights:

The geese above my head
Are arrows across a severe sky.
They are
But one blink
In a bubble of
The Present;
A present to me
In my now.
In the space
Where geese appear to me,
Like bubbles on the surface
Of my coffee,
I can stop flight, freeze time

And in my now
I feel
I see
I sense
The beauty of a certain fact.
Not tortured memory
Playing tricks;
Not feeble speculation
With the seeds
Of its own disappointment.

These geese,
My geese,
Are my now.
My Present Presence.
And for that
I give thanks.

Posted in miscellany, poems, poetry | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Being Creative #writephoto

Sue Vincent’s challenge this week is this picture for her #writephoto prompt

World View 

The first time Nelson Brown was warned about ‘being a creative’ was in year three when he sculpted a face during a trip to the beach. Back then trips out were still encouraged; the time of the Last Hope, as he’d heard it called; the time when the experts said the balance would be restored, science would correct what science had crushed. The danger in being a ‘creative’ was to risk being ‘off message’, risk being seen as a subversive and subject to correction.

Nelson squinted at the screen and smiled wryly. At least you had a chance to be yourself back then, to stand out from the crowd. Now, all Creatives were sucked into the machine of misinformation, churning out stories and images that belied what so many knew to be the truth. The planet was ruined and it wasn’t going to come back. But while those in charge scrabbled for a narrative that would be the New Hope they looked to ‘Creatives’ to help distract from the grimmest of realities.

Nelson moved the cursor and another bird appeared on the screen, overlaying the trees he had added earlier. Tomorrow’s news would include a happiness section showing how trees and grass and birds were thriving elsewhere and soon it would be here. Nelson’s job was to create that fiction; he was now part of the problem.

As Nancy said, when he explained what he was doing, ‘At least you’ll give them something to crow about.’

If only it was a joke….

Posted in #writephoto, creative writing, prompt | Tagged , | 15 Comments