Let’s Hear it for 1974 …

The other day, sorting out my study and endeavouring to relieve it of unnecessary papers and files and random photographs cluttering drawers, shelves and boxes, I came across a yellowing few pages of a broadsheet newspaper – The Daily Express – for Monday February 25th 1974. Eagerly, I turned the enormous pages (how did people ever read such a cumbersome thing on crowded commuter trains?) expecting that this edition had been kept for some significance, the report of an extraordinary event – but could find nothing. Quite why these few pages had escaped being thrown out years, decades, in the...

LONG LIVE BOOKSHOPS!

Online book buying has become so second nature to many people that no doubt they never consider actually making a purchase in a real live shop. Just as high street shopping now has to compete with online retail, so bookshops lose customers seeking not only the convenience of buying from home, but also the satisfaction of getting that book at, possibly, a reduced price by an online purchase. But if three lockdowns in the space of some nine months have taught us anything, surely it’s the delight and experience of physically walking into shops and browsing. And bookshops in particular...

MILLER STREET SW22 arrives at P.G.Wells!

P.G.Wells, Winchester’s independent bookshop, is now stocking copies of MILLER STREET SW22. If you are local to Winchester, please make this the place you purchase your copy – with the wonderful cover image from local artist, Josephine Chisholm, I am sure it will do justice to your bookcase! Independent bookshops are a rare breed and book lovers should do all they can to support them. Surely, as we emerge from our third and arguably bleakest lockdown, what is better than a browse around a bookshop, emerging with a new title or two or three? Now this truly is a local...

A Year Without Seasons …

Of course it’s happened before. It’s not the first time theatres have been closed, you know, Voices – some sounding suitably sanctimonious – have reminded us. What about in Shakespeare’s time? There was the plague then, after all. Even as one of Shakespeare’s greatest devotees, I don’t find the parallel at all comforting. I mean as passionate as I am about his work, there is no way I’d like to emulate features of life in Shakespeare’s day – public hangings, heads on Traitors’ Gate and the unsanitary state of London thoroughfares coming swiftly to mind. But it’s true that Shakespeare...

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SPRING IS LIKE …

A perhaps hand – or so ee cummings said in his poem – he of the absence of capital letters and punctuation school of thought. And this year, this particular spring, his poem seems more pertinent than ever before. We seem to have lived with Perhaps for the past 12 months, after all. Perhaps we’ll be able to meet in a month or so – perhaps we will be permitted to share a park bench by next week – perhaps we will get our normal lives back – Then there’s cummings other spring poem, in just – and the wonderful...

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MOTHERS IN LITERATURE

When you start thinking about it, there are an awful lot of absent mothers in literature. So many heroines in classic novels seem to be without a mother which is not surprising given the mortality rate during childbirth in the 19th century. Let alone the lack of prenatal and antenatal care around in the days of multiple pregnancies – not to mention a slight disregard for pain relief and hygienic conditions … I mean think of them: orphans Jane Eyre, Bathsheba Everdene and Eustacia Vye. Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot dependent only on paternal influence. And Henry James seems equally...

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Words – Words – Words …

They betray us, words. Our vocabulary and daily usage hooks us inevitably to an age and an era. Just as our understanding of phrases and even the function of objects are escapable giveaways of the decade into which we were born. There’s a kind of social history attached to words that we are not particularly aware of until speaking to someone considerably younger. I mean, how many millennials have ever encountered the word gusset? Or understand the phrase bought on the never-never? Or saving for one’s bottom drawer? And as for the idea of saving and sticking small green stamps...

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BOOK LAUNCH OF MILLER STREET SW22!

It’s this week – the official publication date of my third novel, MILLER STREET SW22, and consequently my online book launch. Early reviews from Netgalley for the ebook version have been very gratifying: I absolutely loved this book – it was beautifully written – an enchanting read – what a lovely read – the writing is extremely good – the story is engaging – the book is very hard to put down – the characters are relatable and well-drawn. The online book launch is this Wednesday February 24th from 6.00 pm onwards on Zoom. If you would like to be...

Lockdowns without Letters …

It would have seemed unimaginable to previous generations. This past twelve months or so have, after all, deprived us of much, but gifted us – or some of us – chunks of time that are elusive in the normal scheme of things. And people have been responding. Homemade bread has evidently become ‘a thing’ with sour dough for some reason being given star status and the subject of endless WhatsApp communications. Neglected flutes, guitars, violins et al have been picked up, dusted off and some semblance of sound encouraged out of the instruments by their owners who last attempted a...

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Online Book Launch – Wednesday 24th February

It’s beginning to feel commonplace – an online event. Yet a year ago, if anyone had told me I would be launching my third novel, MILLER STREET SW22, in this way, I would have been utterly bewildered and perplexed. Not now, however. And hopefully, it will feel comfortable and enjoyable for people to join me any time between 6 and 7.30 pm on Wednesday 24th to hear a little bit about MILLER STREET SW22, ask questions about this or my previous novels and generally have some fictional, bookish chat to while away the early evening. If you don’t yet have...