I have a new assistant

Charlotte and I now have the full time assistance of a literary animal, seen here studying some of the evidence that we shall be using in book 30. He has taken to his duties with great seriousness, is a dab-paw on the keyboard and has rapidly found his way around my library.

Sometimes it is a little difficult to remove him from one of his vantage points so that we can actually get at the book we need, but he takes it in good part and returns to his perusal of the great works as soon as we’ve stopped messing around.

We have to keep him well fed naturally. He is a creature of many talents and cultivated tastes. We shared a dish of Salmon en Croute yesterday evening for example and today he tells me – by speaking very clearly every time I open the refrigerator – that he would prefer roast chicken. Charlotte has kept him well provided with warm milk which he says assists his brain cells.

Expect great things from the three of us for in one way and another we are all inspired!

 

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2017. 1 Comment

Goodbye Uncle Bob

So the odious Robert Mugabe has finally accepted that he’s got to resign and the people of Zimbabwe have been dancing in the streets with the sheer joy of having got rid of him. He began well as the leader of a party opposed to colonial domination but power and wealth went to his head and for far too long now he has been greedy, ruthless and brutal, using his army to subdue his own people and taking so much wealth out of the economy that the poverty in Uganda is now extreme.

Zimbabwe was once one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, now warehouses are empty, fields lie fallow, banks are so short of cash that people wait hours to withdraw even tiny sums and the roads are full of potholes. There aren’t very many jobs and most of them are in government service where the salaries of the workers are very rarely paid. If ever a society was crying out for revolution, it is this one. I would like to think that now they’ve removed him from power the people of Uganda will put him on trial for his misdeeds. A precedent has been set for it.

This same week a man called Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life imprisonment. This man was nicknamed ‘the butcher of Bosnia’ and was infamous for the extermination, murder and persecution of his countrymen and the massacre of Srebrenica. It has taken twenty years to bring him to justice, but at last he has been found guilty of all charges against him and, what is perhaps even more important, the court that managed to do this was an international criminal tribunal backed by the United Nations. How cleansing it would be in a world grown sick of greed and cruelty for the stage to be set, for the hideously greedy and savagely cruel to be brought to justice.

I can think of a great many other leaders whose behaviour is so obscene that we really should be stopping it. Is it power to the people again at last?

 

 

 

This entry was posted on November 23, 2017. 3 Comments

BookBub

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve read my title and said ‘what on earth’s that?!’ So do let me tell you.

My excellent publishers Endeavour Ink have just let me know that they have set up what looks like an excellent deal for my recently published book ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ with a company called Bookbub. This is effectively a newsletter that people subscribe to which informs them of special eBook deals and the deal that Endeavour have brokered with them for my book is a one week spectacular price reduction. It will operate in the UK, United States, Canada and Australia, for a week starting on November 24th and will be offered for sale at £0.99/$0.99. That looks like a bargain to me! 

Here’s the link www.bookbub.com

This entry was posted on November 22, 2017. 5 Comments

A blog for Remembrance Sunday

I’ve been following this year’s Remembrance celebrations and wishing somebody would quote at least one poem by Wilfred Owen who served and died in the trenches and knew exactly what he was writing about. But nobody has. And what is worse an unpleasant MP got up on his hind legs in the house just after Remembrance Sunday to tell us all the old, stale sentimental lie, that ‘our brave boys had died to save democracy’ which for a bit of unmitigated and specious tripe, ought to take any thinking persons breath away. So here is our superb Wilfred Owen to speak for those of us who know what that dreadful war was about and how obscene it was.

 

This is what he said in the preface to his collected poems:

This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.

Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War.

Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.

My subject is War, and the pity of War.

The Poetry is in the pity.

Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.

Not glory, honor, might, majesty, dominion or power you’ll notice. Just war. And told as it was in all its squalor, filth, blood, pain and death.

 

And here is Owen again spelling it out clearly to us in his poem ‘The Parable of the Old Man and the Young’.

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

There is nothing more I can say after that. Ave atque vale Wilfred.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2017. 2 Comments

When all the earth is paradise

I make no apologies for the fact that this blog is going to be political and outspoken. I think the time has come, or is certainly rapidly approaching, when we shall be free to say what we believe on social media without provoking scolding, screaming and vilification and if that turns out to be true – high time too!

So I mean to start with a poem and without apology.

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

They shall be gentle, brave, and strong
To spill no drop of blood, but dare
All that may plant man’s lordship firm
On earth, and fire, and sea, and air.

Nation with nation, land with land,
Inarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

New arts shall bloom of loftier mould,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song,
when all the earth is paradise.

John Addington Symonds

It was turned into a hymn and was popular in 1945 when I was fourteen and the idea of the bloodless revolution against the all powerful rich, which had been detailed by Lord Beveridge in his report on the social order, was taking hopeful shape. The revolution he predicted was bloodless. It’s about the only revolution I can think of that ever was. But it was thorough and triumphant, thanks to the quiet purpose of Clement Attlee and the firebrand eloquence and total dedication of a new breed of politicians like the great Nye Bevan, who brought in the National Health Service, despite bitter opposition from the once ruling class. A great man. And not a member of the ruling elite, but a working miner with a lovely rich plummy voice to match.

 

 

 

I think it’s apposite now that the rich have become not just wealthy but obscenely wealthy, are apparently all powerful and until quite recently have kept their names and un-taxed fortunes entirely secret. And now – hooray – they’ve had their cover blown by the very publicly leaked Paradise Papers. The very name of it makes my heart jump and the details that are being revealed make me hope that at last and for the second time in my life we can change the social order.

It may be that you have not read the Guardian or tuned into Channel 4 or seen any other news of these revolutionary revelations because the papers you read and the TV you see are owned and therefore dominated by the obscenely, non-taxpaying rich. They have their fat fingers and their dominant secret voices in every part of our society. They put money into the Brexit campaign – Robert Edmiston for example gave thousands to two Brexit groups and I’ll be you’ve never heard of him, until now; they backed Donald Trump; they have financed our present corrupt government; they dominate our newspapers, the majority of which are owned by people like Murdoch and Viscount Rothermere. They are in every sense, as the Washington Post has said, ‘Enemies of the People’.

But their secrets are out now. They can be opposed, laws can be passed to ensure that they pay the full amount of tax they owe to whichever country they owe it to. It will probably take a general election and a complete change of government to start this sort of action in this country. But it won’t just be in this country, it will be worldwide, for the poor have been exploited by the mega rich all over the world. And the men and women named in the paradise papers come from virtually every nationality.

The more people who learn what has been revealed by the paradise papers, the sooner this necessary revolution will take place. We already have a leader in waiting who quotes Shelley, with total understanding, saying that he will lead a government for the many not for the few. He is spot on and it is a clear voice. Oh, oh, Jeremy Corbyn! 

I can do no better than to end this blog by quoting Shelley too:

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many – they are few.

 

This entry was posted on November 10, 2017. 11 Comments

Look out your deerstalker

Look out your deerstalker and your meerschaum pipe and put your violin on standby, I’ve discovered a mystery for you. Oh I love a good mystery. And this one concerns Blake’s Cottage, which gives me two reasons to love it, or at least be very interested in it.

Last week, I received a re-tweet from a friendly and informative organisation in America called Blake Quarterly. It had originally been put on twitter by somebody calling himself ‘manspaceouta’ and consisted of an advertisement for ‘an escorted tour of William Blake’s Felpham – Blake’s Cottage’. You could have seen my ears prick up at fifty paces. Was somebody really showing people round Blake’s Cottage? I could barely believe it. Naturally, I read Mr manspaceouta’s other tweets, which were rather peculiar I have to say – one of them advertised feral footwear, which turned out to be a couple of pairs of old boots with some of Blake’s paintings projected onto them. So whoever Mr manspaceouta is, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘feral’, not to worry. He might know something about our Blake’s Cottage. And he described himself as ‘I R inventorist, scientitian, cardboard interventionist, feral shoe photographer, and wringer-out for one armed window cleaner and Bacterial Warrior (now with added MS).’

So I sent him a tweet. Asking him who he was and when the tour was going to take place and where the participants were to meet. He came back to me quite quickly and was plainly miffed, wanting to know whether I was being deliberately rude and telling me nothing at all about the proposed tour. I answered that almost at once, to say that all I wanted to know was when the tour was going to take place and where participants were to meet. There was then a total silence and when I checked Mr manspaceouta’s profile, I found he had disappeared from twitter altogether. Curiouser and curiouser as Alice would have said.

So I tweeted Blake Quarterly and asked them what they knew about him. And they said nothing at all and that they’d simply re-tweeted information.

So I emailed Peter Johns who is the only member of the triumvirate who ‘own’ Blake’s Cottage, who is local and available, he said he knew nothing about the man but thought he might be referring to a video which might have been taken on the last open day and might be the video that was shown by Rachel Searle at Bognor Library.

So I filled my meerschaum pipe and sent an email to Rachel, who came back to say she didn’t know anything about it at all, adding ‘he certainly hasn’t done a tour for me’.

I’ve now just discovered that manspaceouta has blocked me. And here is the message and the picture to prove it! The plot thickens! What is he afraid of?! What do you think?

This entry was posted on November 1, 2017. 1 Comment

A shopping trip to regret.

Yesterday, Charlotte and I decided to take a day off writing and editing and shunting and all the other things we do, and to go out to Chichester on the spree. We dropped my watch off to be repaired and then set off happily towards the shops. We had a considerable shopping list and every intention on buying everything on it, starting with a jacket – very like this one – which I wanted to buy her for her birthday.

We was wrong!

We’d found the jacket on the internet but it wasn’t in the shop and the assistant, who was very friendly and helpful, said she thought it had sold out. Considerable woe! ‘Never mind’, we said to one another, ‘we’ll find another one.’ And we moved on to the second item on our list, on the way to our next shop. Couldn’t find what we were looking for there either! Woe and double woe! ‘This isn’t our day’ we said to one another. But we strode forth nevertheless, determined to be successful in our third trip.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. Our third port of call was Boots where I had every hope of buying the strips I needed to test my blood sugar levels. I’ve been buying them from Boots, for more years than I care to think about! But they weren’t there! And another very helpful assistant told us that she thought they’d been discontinued. Considerable groaning ensued. But Charlotte came to the rescue, dear girl that she is, and phoned around to find if there was anywhere else where the strips were still being sold. She found one local chemist who had one pack left and asked her to put it on hold for us until we could come and collect it. A success, although in a very roundabout way! Not quite high-five territory, but close!

By that time, we were feeling in need of sustenance and took ourselves off to Marks and Spencers for coffee and cake. Bliss! And a return to normal. Then we did some food shopping and dear old M&S didn’t let us down. We emerged from the store with a full shopping basket and our faith in shopping restored.

Wrong again! 

‘Now,’ we said. ‘All we’ve got to do is pick up the watch, we’ve given them an hour, it should be ready by now.’ You’ll never guess…! It wasn’t ready and they didn’t know when it would be, but they would ring me when it was, which surprise, surprise, they still haven’t done. Groan, growl, stomp off kicking the pavements all the way to the carpark. ‘This,’ we said to one another, ‘is definitely not our day!’

Little did we know, there was a final horror waiting for us in the car park. One of my old adversaries, otherwise known as a ticket machine, was lying malevolently in wait for us. And of course, the damn thing wouldn’t accept my card for payment! It went straight into clicking and growling overdrive before flashing up on the screen that it had no intention of taking it. I answered it with my usual routine. Swearing, card out, card in, buttons pressed, yet another refusal. Repeat performance. And on the third attempt when I was pulling my boots up ready to kick it, it gave in and allowed me to have what I wanted. Not exactly what I would call a successful spree!

I hate machines!