Hello, and thank you for visiting my site. I hope that you'll return often and always find something of interest about my world and what inspires me to pick up a pen. (This is a figure of speech, unfortunately. My handwriting is terrible!) Here's what I've been up to recently...
No, that isn’t yours truly receiving a trophy from Carole Bromley. That distinction went to Ripon Writers’ Group’s Chair, Sheila Whitfield, for her poem about the traditional craft of dry stone walling. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, I was placed joint third.
Why should that be such a big deal, you might ask. Well, it’s because my entry, ‘Not a Hope’, listed all the reasons why I wouldn’t expect to get anywhere in a poetry competition. Prizes these days tend to go to writers of free verse, with traditional forms disdained as hopelessly old fashioned. I disagree, as you’ll realise if you read on. Much of what I hear today, whether at an adjudication or an open mic, I only know is a poem because that’s what I’m told it is. Beautifully crafted and full of clever imagery it may be but, devoid of both rhyme and metre, it’s indistinguishable to my ear from prose.
Carole said that she placed my poem, submitted anonymously, because its writer ‘succeeds in writing a tongue in cheek, brilliant poem which makes her point powerfully and wittily’. I hope you agree. Comments very welcome.
NOT A HOPE
To write an ode is her intent,
But inspiration, heaven sent
To those of a poetic bent,
Has quite forgotten where she lives;
An oversight that always gives
A chance to better poets than she
To craft their entries, while she sighs
And wonders why she even tries.
Her pen is chewed beyond repair
And nothing beckons but despair.
Her friends evoke both place and time
In part or para or half- rhyme.
She knows their poems can’t fail to chime
With any judge of modern verse.
That’s not her style, for she is cursed
With love for both full rhyme and metre
And something strongish by the litre
To drown her sorrows when they beat her.
9 January, 2019
First ‘filler’ of the year to appear in print, cheque to follow. The advice in my ‘Easy Money for Writers & Wannabes’ continues to stand the test of time!
7 January, 2019
I’d wondered how my nearest and dearest might top last year’s charm bracelet, which featured several of my books, and now I know!
These mugs will certainly be accompanying me to next year’s literary events!
(Apologies for the quality of the image, which is due to my lack of skill at photography and no reflection on the print shop that produced them.)
27 December, 2018
D.C.Thomson have maintained their policy of paying on acceptance rather than on publication, for which their regular writers are very grateful. However, it’s always a little disappointing when a story is ‘held over’, as mine was last Christmas. However, here it is at last in the issue dated 22.12.18.
My original title, ‘A Slice of Happiness’, gave more of a clue to its subject matter than that chosen by the fiction team. Inspired by the same event that I described in my novel ‘Shadows of the Past’, it tells of an unexpected act of kindness during the final days of the WW2 German occupation of France. One reader has already let me know that it moved her to tears.
20 December, 2018
Thank you, Graham. Your unflagging support for the creative members of our community is always very much appreciated.
6 December, 2018
The weather outside Harrogate Library was horrible, but inside all was warm and cosy. Fellow PYA members Neeley Wickes, Marla Skidmore, John Jackson, Edwin Rydberg, Brian Pentelow, Darren Walker and I set out our stalls and looked forward to a few hours of discussing our books with the public and – eternally optimistic – going home at the end with empty bags. It didn’t quite work out like that, but I sold a fair few of mine and met some very interesting people.
I’m indebted to John Jackson for this wonderful collage of the PYA members selling their books today.
The presence of the Friends of Harrogate Library with their pop-up cafe (and good selection of delicious cake!) was very welcome and I was fascinated by the skills of the ladies from Harrogate Embroiderers’ Guild, who were displaying their work and offering the opportunity to have a go. Thanks are also due to the talented gentleman who played seasonal music for us throughout the event. Sorry I neglected to get his name.
1 December, 2018
If you scroll down, you’ll discover that the outfit featured was concocted for the 1940s disco at this year’s Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Amit (AA) Dhand was the guest speaker I’d recommended to the Committee, having met him previously at a York Writers meeting. His powers of oratory are as great as his books and, despite the grim nature of the topics he writes about, he could easily have a second career as a stand up comedian. He was a huge hit at Swanwick and the queue to buy his books stretched back from the information room to the bar. (Fellow Swanwickers will know just how far that is!)
Andy Hamilton and Bob Pegg are both old favourites of mine, my admiration for Bob going right back to my teenage years.
As for the newspapers, well, I admit to being rather tongue in cheek on that topic!
22 November, 2018
Looking forward very much to being one of the featured authors!
21 November, 2018
15 November, 2018
I’ve never been prouder of my adopted city than over the last couple of weeks. An angry comment from a veteran to Councillor Stuart Martin last year about the dismal effort made to commemorate Remembrance Day has led to an explosion of red all over the Ripon district. He and the indefatigable Hazel Barker have spearheaded a tremendous community effort. Well over 50 000 knitted and crocheted poppies, produced and sewn onto netting by many willing hands, lined the route from the Cenotaph to the Cathedral in preparation for Sunday’s parade. Not only that, they’d spilled out into the Spa Gardens, were to be seen in every shop window, all over the Market Place and the Town Hall… I could go on and on! All the stops were pulled out at the Cathedral too, with its Fields of Mud installation (the magnificent creation of local artist Dan Metcalfe), Wall of Remembrance, poppies cascading from the pulpit (and just about everywhere else) and silhouette soldiers on guard. Roundabouts and other entry points to the city sported large wooden poppies produced by the JennyRuth workshops.
Memories of the Concert of Remembrance will stay with me for a long time and not just because my eyes were wet for most of it. During the readings and while the Dishforth Military Wives, Cathedral Youth Choir and Combined Ripon Primary Schools sang and Ripon City Band played, the names of the fallen were scrolling up endlessly on a screen above their heads. All the surnames were local ones, often repeated, which really brought home the losses to individual families in a community that only numbered around 10 000 at that time.
A fabulous light show projected onto the west facade of the Cathedral attracted large crowds on several evenings. Photographs of soldiers and their horses alternated with displays of poppies and lines from well known war poems. Wilfred Owen wrote some of his best while stationed in Ripon, which was home to a huge military camp throughout the hostilities.
Ripon’s contribution to the centenary of what we now call the Great War has been recognised all over the UK and beyond, featured in both local and national news broadcasts and LEST WE FORGET was on everyone’s lips.
12 November, 2018