Tuesday, 23 July 2013


I have no idea what LipDub is but this video that features my home city has been doing the rounds.

It's really good and shows the city in a very good light - probably helped by the sunnny weather - but as I am a realist, I wonder why they couldn't have shown at least one beggar under the Stonebow or at the very least the Big Issue seller on the High Street. After all aren't these people also part of Lincoln life?

It just seems wrong to me to brush problems under the carpet (or the paving slabs) and pretend they don't exist but then I imagine this was made to promote tourism and who wants to think that a lovely city like ours has beggars and vagabonds walking about before they visit?

Other than that, and the fact it shows cars driving where they're forbidden which mere mortals like the rest of us would be fined heavily if we did it, there are some faces I recognise including Paul Weller. I recall he has some connection to Lincoln but I can't remember exactly what.

I also wonder how they managed to get the High Street and Steep Hill cleared of people to make the video. I suppose it's a good job I didn't go to town that day.

Anyway, despite my gripes, enjoy the video and marvel at my lovely city which is part of old Roman England. I'm not surprised, therefore, that recent excavations of our great castle has discovered a Roman townhouse beneath it's walls.

For anyone interested in Lincoln - Lindum Colonia as the Romans named it - follow all things Lincoln at the It's About Lincoln blog. They are far more positive and informative over there about my home city than I am.


It's 125 years since my favourite crime novelist was born. Raymond Chandler took crime from the polite and cozy living room and sleepy communities of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the rough and sleazy streets of LA. In doing so he created a new genre that has influenced crime writers and excited readers for decades.

No one does it like Chandler. Such is the strength of his work that even today we can see characters based on his creation Philip Marlowe.

When I first started writing my crime novel it was very Chandleresque without me even realising how much I'd been influenced by him. However, my main character was slated by my academic writing group as being "too cliché." My detective in this very early draft was called Jack with similar characteristics - but without the Irish twist - to the sleuth created by Ken Bruen who wrote the Jack Taylor novels. Now my "Jack" is a women called "Lou" but Chandler as an influence is still there.

I'd never read any Chandler books before and it had been years since I'd seen the old Bogart films such as The Big Sleep but I clearly wasn't overtly aware of how much impact they had on me.

His writing is literary art. It's easy to read, fast paced, and compelling. But when you have openings like : "...I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars..." then you are immediately hooked.

I'm currently studying a more academic crime novel In The Name of the Rose and I'm finding it quite hard going - not least because of all the Latin references. It's a bit too clever for itself and not a book I'm enjoying but rather one I'm reading because I have to and I'm finding excuses to put it down and do something else. Suffice to say it is very slow going.

Chandler's work, however, has me so gripped that I'll happily prop up my eyes with matchsticks when I'm tired just to ensure I keep on reading because I genuinely want to know what is going to happen next. He is a writer whose work I just can't put down.

No wonder we're still talking about him more than 50 years after he died and I feel sure he'll still be the subject of conversation another 125 years from now.


And did the world's biggest search engine actually take it's name from something Chandler wrote? I wonder when reading this letter to his agent written in 1953 when he mentions "Google" in relation to sci-fi writing.

Monday, 8 July 2013


Apparently in Shamanic societies when people complained of being depressed the medicine men would ask four questions :

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

I'm not depressed but yesterday as I sat in the garden blissfully happy and drenched in sunshine with earphones in listening to some damn fine music, toes tapping and head banging, those Shamanic words came to me and I suddenly asked myself when did I last dance as if my soul depended on it?

Then the song above came on and I could contain myself no longer so I just went for it. I danced barefoot on the lawn like it was the last day on earth and enjoyed every single minute of it. When the song ended, I looked up to see my other half watching me with a curious look on his face that seemed to question whether I'd gone stark raving mad but he was soon assured that I was, simply, just enjoying myself.

Earphones over the weekend were necessary to help stop the noise of planes flying overhead at the RAF Waddington International Air Show. I live in the area so get to see it for free and there were some wonderful displays but the continual noise, including the day before it started when they were practising, gets a bit too much unless you're an enthusiast, which I'm not.

My writing is on course but nothing was done yesterday because Grand daughter No 1 came to stay. She wanted to watch the planes from Granny's garden but soon ran inside crying when the Avro Vulcan roared into the sky. It was too noisy for her little ears so Granny's lesson this week was how to stick your fingers in your ears, or earphones with your favourite music blasting through, to keep the worst of the noise out.

Years ago, when there was a very active campaign to get it back into the skies, I wrote a piece for my local paper and found out that it is called the Avro Vulcan because of it's connection to the old A V Roe factory up the road in Bracebridge Heath.

It was after we'd dropped the grand daughter back home that my lunatic dancing took over my soul - OK, the red wine helped a lot with that too- and I resolved that I must do it again next time she comes to stay and teach her the old Shamanic ways of enjoying life.

Meanwhile, for the aviation enthusiasts, here is the great Avro Vulcan coming in to land at RAF Waddington at a display enjoyed by thousands of people during what has been a weekend of weather sent to lift the soul of both those who are happy and those who are depressed.

Friday, 5 July 2013


I know the only way to get my crime novel written is to write but sadly I usually look for any distraction to avoid it and then beat myself up for not writing. So today I donned that hair shirt and forced myself to sit at the computer and pick it up from where I left off.

The only way to finish it is to write the words that will be the foundation stones and bricks that build the story. After a good productive three hours I'm finally back to making progress and now I feel a reward is due.

Today is a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the garden looks wonderful so I think the time has come for me to sit out there and enjoy it while it lasts and read the two books that my WEA crime and mystery class will be studying next term.

My students again chose the books they wanted to study as they did last time and both share the religious crime and mystery theme.

My only dilemma is whether I choose to read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco first or Dissolution by CJ Sansom. Either way, it's going to be a good week of writing and reading.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Forest - the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco - really knows how to throw a good party. Anyone who is anyone would rather be there than square and miss out on one of the consumer right's group's events which are known for supporting the serious business of having fun.

Speakers included King of Spin in Margaret Thatcher's era Lord Bell who gave a rip roaring speech that wasn't really directed at our current PM but the belief in Downing St, whoever occupies it, that the state has the right to control what legitimate products we buy when it only has a duty to inform us of what risks they may carry to our health.

Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs Mark Littlewood spoke of how dubious "quack science" is used to blow any health issue out of proportion no matter how small the possibility of harm when the very art of living and life itself carries inevitable risk.

He ended his humorous and thought provoking speech to resounding applause. Without risk life is boring. I guess that's true whether we smoke, drink, ride horses or climb mountains.

Before and after the speeches we all indulged ourselves in fine food, wine, cigars and whiskey. The latter two are not pleasures I usually enjoy but Boisdales of Canary Wharf provides such high quality goods that both tasted sublime to me. I won't be consuming either for another year so I assessed for myself that both were risks worth taking.

It was a great night, much fun, laughter and intellectual conversation was had, and I met some fantastic people who intend to live their lives to the full in the belief that it isn't how long you live but how well you live that matters. Some of those were into old age - including Lord Bell himself and inventor Trevor Baylis who had in common with younger guests the belief that a little bit of what you fancy does you good but to deny yourself the things that give you pleasure makes for a long and miserable life.

Now the party's over it's back to reality for me and the donning of my hair shirt to ensure that the workload I have ahead is met.

For more photos of the Forest do taken by photographer Dan Donovan then see HERE It was certainly a great night and I hope the event is held again. I enjoyed it as much this time as I did last year when it began.

UPDATE : Director of Forest Simon Clark has written about it HERE

Monday, 1 July 2013


Solstice weekend at Badger Farm, Asterby, Louth was amazing fun. It is the time of year when the hosts hold the EcoFest festival but it sadly ended last year after 20 years and so we crew were invited for a small gathering to party, camp and just have fun and a catch up with people we don't often see at any other time of year.

The weather wasn't too bad. The sun came out a lot but there was a bit of rain - hence the beautiful rainbow - and it was quite a furious wind which flapped the tent so hard it wrestled with itself against the elements to stay up.

We had a big camp fire and were treated to a visit from Claudio Kron Do Brazil who had me dancing in the moonlight. An example of his style can be seen and heard in the video below. Amazing is all I have to say about it.

And then there was a couple of musicians from one of my favourite festival bands The Bad Apples who came along to jam in the moonlight. There was an almost pagan feel to the evening as a woman danced in the glow of the fire as they played folk music.

The moon was huge and I got the best shot of it that I could. At times like that I wish I was a real photographer rather than just someone able to point a camera, shoot and hope for the best. I guess it didn't turn out too badly.

It was such a friendly chilled out atmosphere a million miles away from busy life that I hated to come home but reality always strikes. It was a shame that I couldn't make the Funny as Folk Festival last weekend but maybe next year.

To me winter is for working hard but summer because it is so short and we don't get a lot of hot days in England is for fun.

My next big summer party will be the Forest bash at Boisdales of Canary Wharf which is on tomorrow night. I'm really looking forward to it.

And then in a couple of weeks I'm going on a girlie friends boat trip to Rotterdam. I just hope the weather will be kind but if not I am sure we can find a warm and welcome place to spend time until the boat takes us home again.

I suppose my last summer event will be Small World the second festival from the Wolds Collective at Badger Farm. It really is worth the cost for anyone who fancies time in the gorgeous Louth Wolds countryside. Booking is available at the link.

Meanwhile, some of the acts on offer are mentioned in this poster.