Welcome to my website. This is where I write about anything that takes my fancy, anything that magnetically draws two jabbing forefingers, their companions quite redundant, towards the keyboard. I never did learn to type properly. Where I offer opinions to the world. Where I review books I like and where I say a little about my own. If you’d like to, please linger awhile and browse, and read anything that takes your fancy.
I’ve always been passionate about words; about the mental pictures they paint when chosen carefully and skilfully combined. Working with them began early for me in my working career, as a compositor in the olden days of metal type, then as a graphic designer and copywriter. Then, like the filling in a sandwich, there came an interlude in the middle of my adult life when I did something completely different: old house renovation and then landscape gardening. Now, living in Wales these last twenty-three years, I’ve renewed my acquaintance with words. I blog them, fashion them into novels and sparingly sprinkle them on social media.
I just love words.
This is my new novel Christobel which I am serialising here to read, free, gratis and for nothing. If you’d like to know something about it, please look at the post Angels in the family in the January 2017 archive, where you can begin reading it. To continue, read each subsequent post on from there, leaving out, if you like, the post Unwelcome to Britain? which is a digression into my views about some possible consequences of Brexit. New chapters are added at approximately five-day intervals. I hope you enjoy, and perhaps are a little moved by it.
This is my summerhouse-cum-writing chalet, the last thing I made when renovating my cottage, where I produce my words in the summer. My short story Another Spring, from my anthology Awakening (published on Amazon), is slightly autobiographical, in that it’s about a writer who lives in the country in Wales. So that I could illustrate it on this site, I had the writer sitting in his summer house, which just happens, surprise surprise, to be identical to mine, contemplating the view across the fields.
Here’s an extract from it:
It seems more than just a few months since I was last in here, in my summerhouse/cum writing den. I always forget how wonderful the view is. So I’m sitting here now, at my table, gazing at it. I’ll knuckle down to some writing shortly, but let’s have five minutes just surveying and meditating first. Looking and letting the mind wander. Girding the spiritual loins, so to speak. Through the window with its whimsical Gothic-arched top I see my rose garden. Well, rose border, anyway. Beneath the hedge, it is. It’s too early for flowers yet of course, but I know how splendid they’ll be in a couple of months, when they reach their blowsy best: a bright carnival, a riot of reds and pinks and whites and oranges and yellows, every bloom vying for attention, every waiting bud pregnant with promise. I love roses. But they are yet to come.
And at the foot of a particularly beautiful peach-coloured floribunda rose, my simple memorials, hand-lettered on slate, to two of our dogs: Bethan, who came here with us in search of a new life, but having taken herself off late one evening, when the garden was not properly dog-proofed, foolishly scavenged slug pellets in another garden and got metaldehyde poisoning and died; and Ellie, here from being a pup, who quite simply, for no obvious reason, lay down at my feet as I sat writing one morning and also quietly died, years before her time. I scattered Bethan’s ashes in the wood where we walked together. Ellie’s are buried in a wooden casket beneath the rose, her atoms slowly returning to the ground, in time.
Then the hedge. It’s a wild, tangled affair, none of your suburban mono-cultural nonsense; certainly not dreary Leylandii or box or privet. It’s a proper country garden hedge, rich with many species. I must count them one day. I bet there must be fifteen or so, if not even more. When we first came here, nine years ago now, it was to find to our horror that the previous owners had not been kind. He was an agricultural contractor, so he told me, and did hedge cutting for a living. Well, hedge hacking, I’d call it. So he brought his heavy machinery into play: tractor and flail. Every year, with ruthless indifference to individual pruning requirements, he simply slashed it uniformly down to a militarily exact regulation high. It looked awful. That may be a reasonable modus operandi when you’re dealing with kilometres of agricultural hedge, but not for a garden. The man clearly had no soul. Now, I cut it by hand, very selectively, leaving some things, like lilac and ash, to grow unfettered and become trees.
From my elevated position, because the summerhouse was deliberately built like that, I can see over the hedge to the village square. Rather endearingly, the Welsh always call the centre of a settlement a ‘square’, even if it technically isn’t one. In Llantomos village’s case it’s simply the junction of two close-together side streets, one of them my lane, with the main village street. Diagonally across the square I can see a nice building, big and stone-built and four-square, the former Red Lion pub. In this strongly Welsh speaking area it ought to have been called Yr Llew Goch. I don’t know why it wasn’t. It’s a shame it didn’t survive as a pub, but the last landlord simply couldn’t make a go of it. So now it’s inhabited by a family: a thirties-something couple and their three small children. Apart from a nice old whitewashed former stables attached to the ex-pub, there are no other buildings in view. Just the surrounding green folded fields that tumble and cradle the village.
(End of extract)
Here is my latest properly published (on Amazon) novel The Flautist: a tale of love, music, acceptance and deliverance from despair. To learn about it see my posts in the April 2016 archive (reading in this order): You say Flutist, I’ll say Flautist, Head for heights? and Can you judge a book by just one page?