The Book Club

A la recherche du temps perdu

I sit in silence being new to the group before making a few points on the chosen book. I am largely ignored. Which is what happens to that novel after the first glass of wine. It is the literary boasting that takes over. The host sounds as if she and Dickens are bosom pals, ‘We go right back,’ she says. ‘I was in love with him from the age of seven, can quote chunks of his prose.’ The rest murmur approval but don’t take her up on the point. Her special buddy waxes lyrical on the Russian literary giants especially Dostoyesky, which she pronounces incorrectly, and then fails to offer even one title. ‘No, no!’ cries the woman in the kaftan. ‘American literature is the best, has much more to offer, for women especially.’ A requirement for her to endorse this statement is lost in the opening of another bottle and topping up of glasses. They carry on with a lot of twaddle about novels being far too long or too short or indigestible, whether prizes have any value. I lose track. Wonder how I can take the talk back to the reason we are here, find out who did or did not enjoy the novel of choice or the even, whether … But there is little hope of success as a further round of wine is doled out.
So I wait, tempted to say that my mother read Proust to me as a bedtime story. Something about something being lost. If only I could remember the name, I’d claim that for myself.

Self belief - stones with inspiring words

Self belief

I’m talking about a novel but the same must apply to any of the arts; painting a picture, scripting a play, devising dance; a solo act. You are expressing  ideas through your own imagination, a very personal act. Research may be involved, but the primary force of the piece is you, yourself, creating characters and plot, […]

Magic Realism and The Angel Child

I was reminded of my love for magic realism recently when hearing of a new novel by Max Porter, ‘Lanny’. He is an author I do not know but look forward finding his work. I first encountered magic realism when reading ‘One Hundred Years’ of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez soon after it was […]

Tidal Surge of Global Warming

I look out of the window, third floor, overlooking the sea. Below the train rushes past, a hoot as if we ought to know. Such hideous modernity butting up to our beautiful old houses, this terrace of painted gems. A synchronicity of colours, an artist’s flair for unity. We are a commune. People who share the values of beauty and friendship. For this I’m lucky.
A enormous wave overwhelms the hideous monstrosity below, metal tubes of the utmost discomfort, whistling past. The spray engulfs, white spume drenching the beast, the sea thumbing its nose at this new need for speed. I cheer.
Ridiculous though as all our objections to the laying of the track twenty odd years ago were quashed. Flung out as if we were morons harking back to bygone days of life lived at a snail’s pace.
Today it rouses all those feelings and so much more. That tidal surge brings a memory I wish to forget; the family on the holiday of a lifetime caught out by the unpredictable twin threats, sea and wind. An island of beauty where we ran for our lives, chased by a wave pushed up from far out in the ocean, a power to destroy all human beings.
This house where I live alone, a man without wife or child, harks back to the days before the rail track, before we took that flight, before we ventured down to the summer sand and sea, where we knew the tides, the safety of our home.


I think I’m in love. It’s a real surprise for I’ve never thought that I’d go for his type, certainly haven’t in the past. But there he is sitting opposite, a computer on his lap, with his spruce grey hair, a beard and moustache to match, his glasses perched on the end of what can only be described as a Roman nose. A fetching checked shirt is visible underneath an accommodating fleece. A tasteful fleece, the sort you pull on over your head, leaving the small zip undone to allow air to circulate around your neck, his, a surprisingly unwrinkled and youthful neck.
I’m not bothered by his age. It’s his eyebrows that attract me in particular, the rise and fall as he reads messages from his iPhone, his mouth sweetly echoing amusement and pleasure. And despite the bristly visage, I think I’d like to kiss those lips.
Of course the clincher is the Apple logo. He has to be my mate, my Mac mate.

Creating a cover for a book

The cover, or sleeve as it used to be called, is a vital element in attracting the reader to a book. People, companies, are paid a lot of money for the most dominant and appropriate image. Creating a new book cover for my novel, ‘Incident on the Line’ has been under discussion between Drew, my […]

Twelfth Night

Christmas; a lacing of bulbs strung across our front door was how it began. Lovely it was, everyone said. Why wouldn’t we add more? Fashion and the prevalence of flashing coloured, white or copper lights cheap as chips, inspired us. Wound round trees and bushes, festooned in the climbing rose, tripping down the path to light the way to our house. The candy sticks were a tad vulgar perhaps, similarly the blow up snowman not in the best of taste. Our pièce de resistance though was a golden sleigh pulled by reindeer, the flashing synced to mimic the movement of a jostled red Santa and the galloping quartet. A triumph we believed. To celebrate Christmas, a window of gladness in the dark of winter. Our display the best in the town.

It wasn’t our fault that we missed the date, 6th January, 12th night. How were we to know that it would bring bad luck to the whole street, the demons of the holly and ivy trapped to create havoc. A power outage lasting seven days.

An Epiphany

Epiphany, the 6th of January, is when the wondrous was revealed to the wise men. A time I’d always hoped might be the same for me. Not a messiah as such but at least a rush of knowledge, a fact tossed down from above to enlighten my life, open up a whole new world.
In some ways you could say it has, though it’s hard to view it like that just yet. Some might think I should have seen it coming, the signs, such as they were, though easily spotted in retrospect. The little presents given for no reason and which might have accounted for the drop in our bank balance. The study of maps and stars which I thought was a great new hobby. The talk of going on a long journey which might be exciting. The restlessness which I put down to what they call a midlife crisis. Then with Christmas over it was as if he was counting the days.
Twelve days after, all was revealed. Tony was going off with the minx next door.

New Year’s Eve

Was it possible that I accept? New Year’s Eve, taxis exorbitant and unreliable. More than one glass of wine not worth the risk. Police hovering the early hours for lax unlawful drivers. Too wet to walk home.
The woman wore a deep blue velvet top, swathed at the neck, folds folding into folds. ‘Enjoy yourself,’ she said, ‘we’ll give you a lift home.’ It was tempting. The soft crevices of the garment offered multiple silken cradles, hidden nests, soothing and safe, to waft me through darkened streets.
Her husband topped up her glass; ‘Champagne, the best tipple!’ His cheeks bristled beard, his mouth and eyes in retreat amongst this prolific whiskery. To me he said; ’Drink up, we’ll be passing your door!’
For the rest of the evening water stood for wine. One wife’s cushioned niches inviting, but would her husband’s hands would be firmly on the vehicle’s wheel?