Beats – the story

It’s not often that I write about the writing process but this morning I discovered the central story of Beats, the novel I am writing and wanted to record the moment when it clicked together to make sense.

Note: Beats is the second book in the trilogy of stories featuring DI Frank Lee. The first book Bums was published a few weeks ago, and the third book, Bones, will follow Beats next year sometime.

Yes, so, Beats begins with the discovery of a body – click here for the first 5,000 words of an earlier draft. Yesterday, the current draft reached over 11,000 words, almost 15% of the finished novel, and I thought it was time to work out what the actual plot was. Yes I know, I’d written 11,000 words of something and I didn’t know what it was about!!

The thing is, every writer is different and the same approach doesn’t work for everyone so I’m not trying to write a prescription for writing a novel, just explaining what works for me – and that seems to be that I need to write a substantial amount of the story before I know what’s going on.

It usually starts with an image, like this, from the first paragraphs of Beats:

“. . . Tucked beneath the Orb Stage, in the undergrowth of struts and scaffolding, lay another kind of detritus – the as yet undiscovered dead body of a man in his sixties . . . The body was lying face down in a tangle of wires, a pair of vintage denim jeans pulled down around its knees, exposing a bare white hairless backside . . .”

So, who is this man, what’s he doing dead under the Orb Stage?

And it’s begun.

I already knew that the story was set amongst musicians of one kind or another, and that it was the second book in a trilogy where each book has a story of its own plus a story that spans the three books, so, many of the characters and locations were already defined.

And I already knew that I wanted the book to be structured in the same way as Bums, i.e. the story is told from the point of view of 8 separate characters – that’s 7 plus our hero DI Frank Lee. And I’d already decided that the 7 additional POV characters would not be the same characters featured in Bums.

And, you can’t really introduce a Point-Of-View character without telling their story. So now I had the overarching story of the trilogy to develop, the story of the book Beats itself, plus the stories of the 8 POV characters, nestling neatly inside the arcs.


Bums, Beats and Bones, Story Structure

The challenge was to make it all hang together in a way that made sense, and to make it interesting enough to engage the reader. So I just started writing. 11,000 words later the list of characters in the story, both POV and non-POV had grown enough to fill almost 2 pages of an A4 notebook.

These are the POV characters:

  1. DI Frank Lee – Our hero – late 40’s
  2. Old Steve – a roadie – 65/66
  3. Billy ‘Heartthrob’ Harries – an old rock musician – 65/66
  4. Lucy – An acclaimed actor and Billy’s ex – 64
  5. Freda – Lucy and Billy’s grandaughter – 17 year old folk musician
  6. Tariq – A reasonably successful Indie musician in his late 30’s
  7. Young Steve – Old Steve’s nephew and a folksy-blues musician in his 40’s
  8. Lottie – 24 year old singer, songwriter, poet, artist – broke

Names of some of the other characters who have been mentioned or made an appearance so far: Beth, Anwen, Andy, Tony, Guto, Dick Plum, Ffion, Zac, Mack, Lottie’s mother, Lottie, Lottie’s father, Shaz, Flora, Revti, David Roberts, Samantha Taylor, Bob Harries, Rita Mathias, Ernie, Leo, Terry Taxi, Paula.

So when I was writing I had to introduce all those characters and introduce them in the context of the story, and to fit the structure I’d already committed myself to, but I still didn’t know anything about who the killer was, or why he or she did what they did. Then it clicked – I already knew who the killer was and I already knew the motive.

Now all I’ve got to do is to write another 70,000 odd words to tease out that central story, to develop the overarching story of the trilogy and to figure out satisfactory story arcs of the 8 POV characters.

So yes, now I know who done it and why. I’m not telling you though. You’ll have to wait for the book, which I’m hoping to publish next summer.

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If we were rich

If we were rich, would we still have a table like this?
A table covered in the most recently used bits of shit?
Like scissors and glasses and ashtrays and tips.
Like candles and radios and needles and sticks.

There’s last Thursday’s mailshots and yesterday’s news.
There’s this week’s TV guide and half a pair of shoes.
A table that’s creaking and sagging with clues.
Yes, we’d still have a table like this – it’s the truth.

(This is a poem I just found lurking deep in the entrails of a hard disk – I don’t think it’s been published anywhere (but I may be wrong) – so here it is)

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Vegan burgers and the Con club

When I was growing up in Llanelli we always referred to the Conservative club as ‘The Con Club’. There was no malicious intent in this, after all, in those days, the Conservatives, in Llanelli at least, were not even significant enough to be regarded as a sideshow. I have noticed that in Cardiff the Conservative clubs are referred to as ‘Cons Clubs’ and even labelled as such on their signage. I suspect this is because when you add the ‘s’ it sort of dilutes the meaning of ‘con’ which, when you strip away all the bollocks, is what all political parties, and in particular the Conservatives, are – a great big fat con.

cons-clubRiverside ‘Cons’ club – open for business – hmm!

But never mind about all that – I’ve typed the word ‘Conservative’ far too many times for my mental health so I want to turn to the issue of making a decent vegan burger.

This one is pretty good:

Vegan Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers – Gluten Free

We made these last night, I forgot to write down the ingredients so I hope I haven’t forgotten anything

Makes about 6 burgers

  • 2 or 3 cups of cooked black beans – mashed roughly
  • bunch of spring onions (scallions) – sliced thinly
  • 1 chilli – chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 tablespoons gram flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax / linseed
  • 1 dessert spoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 huge mushroom – chopped finely
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tamari
  • some liquid from the beans
  • rapeseed (canola) oil for frying
  • a bit more gram flour for coating

Mix all the ingredients adding salt, pepper and tamari according to your taste – the mixture should be firm but moist

  • Form into burger shapes
  • coat with a little gram flour each side
  • chill before cooking if you like
  • fry on a moderate heat until browned and warmed through


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Beats: Book 2 in the DI Frank Lee Trilogy

It’s probably a mistake but I’m the sort of person who likes to show the process as well as the finished product – so here are the first 5000 words or so of the very early draft of the second book in the trilogy of crime fiction stories featuring DI Frank Lee.

The characters in Beats are mostly musicians of one kind or another; there’s Billy Heartthrob Harries, lead singer of legendary seventies rockers The Redcurrents, now in his sixties and still banging it out, and his granddaughter, folksy singer-songwriter, seventeen year old Freda.

Billy and Freda are just two of the people Frank encounters as he investigates the murder of a man found dead under the giant Orb Stage of the Elchurch Spring Music Festival.

The first book in the trilogy – Bums –  was published a few weeks ago – click here for details of that.

OK, here we go. Continue reading

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Bums, Beats and Bones

BUMS - Hardback - bookBums is my latest novel. I’ve written bits about it on here. It turns out that it’s the first book in a trilogy of crime fiction stories featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee. Frank is an ex-punk new age traveller – a hell of a background for a police officer, but that’s just the way he revealed himself to me – it’s not my fault – he is who he is.

As the story unfolded it became obvious that it was too big to fit into just one volume and it became the first of three. the other two novels are called Beats and Bones. Where Bums is set amongst the people who live on the edges of society – sometimes known as bums, Beats involves musicians of all types and ages. Both Bums and Beats are self-contained but also part of a longer arc that is eventually resolved in Bones the final book.

Both Bums and Beats are quite complex stories, albeit presented in a simple and readable format; each is told from the point of view of multiple characters with DI Frank Lee at the centre of the action.

Bums has already been published and I have started writing Beats, so have a fairly good idea of its plot and structure. Bones, on the other hand, hasn’t been started yet, and still exists as an abstract cloud of ideas in my head – it will probably involve a character called Fagend – a contemporary Fagin who runs a gang of young boys selling drugs and engaging in petty crime. It also features Jack, a tall giant of a man who runs a training centre for unemployed young people and is also a magistrate. There’s a lot more in that cloud but it’ll keep.

In the meantime I guess I’m only writing this post because I’ve been trying to get on with writing Beats today and have been unable to focus.

Back to it!

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Autumn food

My first serious attempt at Rajma – a.k.a. Red Kidney Bean Curry

The basic recipe is drawn from here: – thanks to Ceri for the variations and the live tips :)

First the ingredients:

  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed under running water
    2 tbsps vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    2 medium-sized onions chopped fine
    2″piece of ginger jullinned
    6 cloves of garlic minced
    2 large tomatoes chopped into 1″ cubes
    2 fresh green chillies chopped fine
    2 tsps coriander powder
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1 tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    Salt to taste
    A pinch of asafetida
    Chopped coriander to garnish



Due to the aforementioned tips I added another small onion and two more tomatoes

Now the method:

Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, add the onion and fry till soft.

Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the green chillies, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and fry till the oil separates from the masala.

rajma-cooking-resAdd the red kidney beans, 3 cups of warm water, asafetida, salt to taste and cook till beans are very soft (approximately 10 minutes). (This took 30 minutes)

rajma-ready-to-rest-resMash some of the beans roughly (this thickens the gravy).
Garnish with coriander and serve with chapatis/roti/wraps


Ceri’s variations:

the asafoetida / hing really does make a difference when you do it right. It’s not essential but to perfect it, it’s good. You can use wraps or gluten-free wraps but proper roti is best.

the fresh coriander is pretty key too, but don’t overdo it this can ruin the balance

also don’t skip the three cups of warm water part – it takes ages to reduce but worth it, cooking it early and turning it off for about an hour before reheating slowly makes it a lot better too, it goes into a lush thick sauce,

and even though it says to rinse the beans, save the tin water and use it as part of the three cups of warm water (heated in a separate pan) – also put the hing in the water as it’s heating, also put a very very small amount of finely chopped fresh coriander in the dish as it’s coming towards the end of reducing, and the rest is used as a sort of garnish on the top, put any left over coriander in a bowl to be used by people as they see fit, and freeze any leftovers

put salt in in stages, so a bit about 5 mins into the onions cooking, a bit with the spices and a bit while it’s cooking (you can taste test while cooking to see if it needs more)

all of that, plus turning it off for a bit really helps


I also made stewed apples and Victoria plums with turmeric and vanilla soya milk custard

Custard is made with 500ml soya milk, 2 tbs cornflour, a pinch of turmeric, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla extract


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Autumn’s breath

Hello autumn.
It’s good to see you again. 
We missed your damp blowing.
We need: your field-wide energy;
to breathe your lullaby,
before winter drops
its dark drape
and wraps us safe,
it’s spring.

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Waiting Haiku

Sitting outside the New Conway, a pub in a leafy street in Cardiff, on a Saturday night at the beginning of September, sipping a pint of cider while waiting for some friends to turn up.

I had a blank piece of A4 paper and a pen in my pocket. I’d folded the paper before leaving home; it was meant as a stand-in notebook, since I couldn’t find one with any empty pages.

haiku-paperI decided to write some haikus to pass the time. The paper had been folded three times giving eight rectangles of pure white space on each side – each rectangle the perfect size to accommodate a handwritten haiku. I thought, if, by the time I’d written sixteen haikus, our friends hadn’t turned up, we’d go home,

I managed to write six – here they are, straight from the paper – unedited. Turns out they are a bit of a haiku sequence.

haikus, things to do
when you're bored outside a pub
and friends don't turn up
autumn is delayed
by a burst of summer sun
birds take advantage
near summer's end
yellowing leaves start their trip
to the brown gutter
like a dance they swirl
on the pavements, in the road
then they separate
noisy crows in trees
saying goodbye to the sun
when it's gone, they stop
on the bark of trees
forests of green moss congeal
it's complicated

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BUMS – Limited Edition Hardback available now!!

I had an unexpected arrival this morning.

BUMS - Hardback - bookIt was a cardboard box containing the first dozen copies of my new Novel ‘Bums’. This is the first consignment of what is a limited hardback edition of 200 books. It’s the first time I’ve published a hard-cover book and it’s turned out brilliantly.

In the end it all came together much more quickly than expected, so this is just a quick note to say that signed copies of this limited edition are available to buy for just £20.

Click here to go to my publisher’s website and order a signed copy.

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BUMS – New novel is almost ready to publish

Bums is my next novel – it is the first in a trilogy featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee – the next two books are titled Beats and Bones and will be released next year.

Bums will first be available as a limited edition hardback – that will be available by the end of September. The paperback and kindle versions will be published in October.

Contrary to previous versions I’ve posted, this is the front cover of the hardback dust jacket.

bums-hardback-cover-3-frontmore details soon . . .

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first impressions of the new reality

After a slightly stimulating chat with a mate today regarding the nature of reality that incorporated such things as quantum foam, event horizons, and Zeno’s paradoxes, I realised that every moment is unique. Ha! So what eh! Of course every moment is unique, I mean, in one moment my thumb is hovering above the space bar on the keyboard I’m using and in the next the same thumb is touching the same space bar. And, if you consider a moment to include every other event that is occurring at that exact point in time then it becomes even more unique (if there is such a thing as a sliding scale of uniqueness).

So, between one moment and the next, countless molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles have moved in some way, in fact it’s probable that every single particle that exists in all the infinity of the universe has moved, because nothing is actually static, nothing stays the same, everything changes, all the time.

The friend who I was talking to – over a cup of tea in the Chapter Arts Centre as it happens, later emailed me a link to a wikipedia article about Zeno’s paradoxes, if you want to find out more here it is:’s_paradoxes

I have read it and will go back to it and I promise I’m not being lazy but I am not a scientific writer – I don’t really care about science – and probably don’t believe in it anyway. Science is just a feeble attempt to make sense of something that is beyond making sense of – the something that exists before science and will exist when science fades, as all things do. No matter how far out science goes, how deep it penetrates, how far back in time, or forward in time, there is always something more, something that science cannot explain.

Also philosophy – which is a sort of science in that it tries to prove something using logic and, arguably, evidence. Yes, also philosophy is merely a wisp on the breeze of eternity.

So, if science and philosophy fail me what is left?

No, it’s not religion.

I was trying to get to a point, so let me see if I can just jump to it without all the bother of following a structured logical path.

OK, this is it. You are a different person than you were a moment ago, the universe you are in now is a different universe than the one you were in a moment ago. Every moment is another you, another universe.

I would go on but I am tired and no one is listening, not in this universe anyway!

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broken bin bag on pavement – Canton, Cardiff

speaks for itself really!


Of all the possibilities that existed at that moment, you didn’t expect this did you?

Click on the pic to look more closely

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Sugar, Tofu, Soya Beans, Tahini

01-shopping-listI NEEDED to get a few things from the shops, so made a list.

This is it.

Just 4 items, that’s all I needed and if I was being honest then I didn’t really need the tofu because that’s what the soya beans were for (to make tofu), and I certainly didn’t need the sugar – no one ever needs that. I could have lived without the soya beans and tahini for a couple of days too.

A modest list don’t you think?

After I’d written the list and was on the way to the shops I remembered I needed bread so headed up to the deli in Pontcanna to grab some Allen’s organic.

I FANCIED a white loaf 02-white-loaf– it’s a rare treat, a good simple old-fashioned bake – makes great toast.

From Pontcanna I meandered in the general direction of Cowbridge Road East, or Cabbage Road – as the street is aptly named by MR Marc Robert Roberts of Zeuk and Chapter fame.

I WAS STRUCK by the super-abundance of brightly-coloured flowers and lush green foliage that adorned the front gardens in Pontcanna Street, Plasturton Avenue, Sneyd Street and Kings Road.

I TOOK a few pics on the way to Cabbage Road; and wrote a song in my head. More on the song in a later post. Here’s a montage of the photos:

Can you spot the odd one out?

Can you spot the odd one out?

I WENT to Home Bargains to get the sugar. I lost the plot a bit and found myself wending my way up and down the aisles, staring at the contents of the shelves, looking for that elusive ‘something’. I kept seeing the same few people doing the same as I was, stumbling around like post-consumerist zombies, trapped in a loop of comestibles and consumables until the end of time.

It's got to be in there somewhere - right?

The answer has to be in there somewhere – right?

I WENT ON to the health shop to get the tofu, soya beans, and tahini, then realised that in my stupor I’d forgotten to get the sugar from Home Bargains, but rather than go back there, partly because of the queues at the checkout, I went on to Tesco, even though it would cost me 20p more for the same amount of the sweet stuff – and it’s bloody Tesco, but there you go – nobody’s perfect.

I WALKED back via the Chapter Arts Centre where there was a crowd in the bar watching a clownish-looking man and a woman in a yellow wig throwing each other around to a sound track of cartoon-like noises.

The aforementioned MR M R Roberts was working behind the counter.

“What’s that all about?” I asked.

“It’s art,” he said.

“I thought it was dance,” I said.

“Dance-Art,” he said, nodding wisely.


Dance-Art in Chapter

Dance-Art in Chapter

WHEN I got home I unpacked the shopping

The haul from Home Bargains - No Sugar!!!

The haul from Home Bargains – No Sugar!!! A hemming kit? How the hell did that get in my basket? The small jars are bruschetta toppings, bought on a whim to go with the white bread – 2 for a quid.

Health Shop Booty, complete with Tofu, Soya Beans and Tahini

Health Shop Booty, complete with Tofu, Soya Beans and Tahini would you believe!

Tesco sugar - couldn't resist the 69p peaches

Tesco sugar – couldn’t resist the 69p peaches

AFTERWARDS I went to see my friend on the other side of town. For the first time in many visits I noticed he had several little buddha ornaments and versions of Bagpuss and Tigger about the place; they were poking out between houseplants, on the edge of the coffee table, that sort of thing.

Tigger under the tele

Tigger under the telly

WHEN I arrived he looked a bit rough.

“I’ve got the heebie-jeebies,” he said. “Can’t go out or anything.”

“Aw!” I said. “Anything I can do?”

“Nah!” he said. “It’s my own fault. I’ve been doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.”

“Ah!” I said. Have you slipped off the wagon again?”

He nodded.

I shook my head – it wasn’t good. He’s got a history of over-consumption of alcohol – it’s had serious consequences for his health.

“I know,” he said sheepishly. “I’m a fucking twat – an idiot.”

“I’ve been popping morphine tabs as well,” he said. “I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes, it’s the only thing that works.”

“They’re really addictive, you better watch out.”

“I know,” he said. “Three days of hell to get off that stuff.”

I nodded.

“Not as bad as giving up alcohol though,” he said. “When you’re as dependent as I used to be. You can’t suddenly stop drinking. It’s dangerous.”

I nodded again.

“You can die from that – I found out too late.”

I had to laugh. It took him a while to see the funny side, but he got there in the end.

“I’m starting to feel better now,” he smiled.

BEFORE I left he gave me an aloe vera leaf to squeeze on a small burn I had on my finger.

“It’s magic,” he said.

Aloe Vera, The burn was cured and the skin healed in 24 hours!!!

Aloe Vera. Edit: The burn was cured and the skin healed in 24 hours!!!

More on that song later . . .

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It’s definitely summer in Wales

I’ve been a bit verbose lately so here’s a photo montage. All pics taken on a walk through Pontcanna and on to Home Bargains in Cowbridge Road.

Can you spot the odd one out?

Can you spot the odd one out?

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water on the smoke

I did think it would be good to listen to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water from 1972 while writing this, and I am listening to it, but to be honest it seems dated and restrained. Yes there’s some nice little riffs in the mix and it does build nicely but I wouldn’t put it up there on the top tunes shelf with Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love from 1969 for example.

Hang on . . .

Now I’m listening to Whole Lotta Love and it smacks Smoke on the Water’s arse with a rather large paddle. Maybe it’s because when the album Led Zeppelin II, where the tune comes from, was released, I was living in a flat in Paddington with a bunch of roadies (one of them went on to become Led Zeppelin’s roadie as it happens) and we’d just scored some very tasty Mexican Grass, so I spent many happy hours, lying back, stoned to buggery, eyes closed, headphones snug, drifting into the void on Led Zep’s shimmering discs of sound that seared deep into my primal core – orgasmic.

Anyway, back to what sparked off this post.

Water on the smoke

Water on the smoke

I went to buy some soya milk and then popped into the Post Office to send a pair of too big Vegetarian Shoes back. When I came out it was drizzling with rain – a fine spray, quite pleasant in a way – a soft cool shower on a muggy day. When I got home I noticed a strong smell of burning aromatic wood permeating the house. Damn, I’d left the bathroom window open and some nitwit had lit a fire in their garden which was being dribbled on by said soft shower; consequently it was billowing smoke like a hippie from the aforementioned sixties.

So. after I pointedly slammed the bathroom window shut, I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be a larf to write something about that and make up an attention-catching headline’, so seeing as it was about smoke and rain (i.e. water) then the tune Smoke on the Water came to mind. I couldn’t even remember the song, but the title is well and truly embedded into the fabric of my brain, and I suspect into millions of other brains around the world and particularly into the brains of people of a certain demographic.

How much other crap is crammed into that endless space in our heads, and is that all we are? Are we just a mashup of memories and memes, blended with a trove of trivia, Is that what makes a person? If I had your memories would I think like you? Would I behave like you? I mean what if I was the person I am now, whatever that is, but remembered only your life? What if you were still you but could only access my past? Would I become you and you become me? If so then we wouldn’t notice – perhaps that goes on all the time.

If you ever make sense of that paragraph above and believe it to be true then it means we are just our memories. The things we think we believe in, the stuff that makes us the sort of people we are, all that, it’s just decoration, window-dressing at best. But that’s not all we are is it? God, we are so complicated, so complex at every level of our existence that it’s just not possible to ever get to know ourselves let alone each other.

But, there is mitigation; if I was a religious person I might call it faith, but to me it’s simply the feeling of being alive, of being capable of experiencing the physical word and able to contemplate what it all means.

Shit! I’m supposed to be editing my novel ‘Bums’

Ah well, everything in its own time eh!

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a fat manuscript

With a bit of luck today will mostly be about beginning the final proofreading and possible minor edits of my ‘Bums’ manuscript . . .


260 full-fat pages

I’ve printed it out as a galley proof on one side of A4. This is so that there is plenty of free space to scribble comments and edits.


The ‘Bums’ manuscript laid out as it will be printed

I much prefer to work with a hard copy and also with the text as it will appear in the final book. I don’t understand why most literary agents and publishing houses expect you to submit a manuscript with the lines double-spaced. What’s the point of that? Maybe, back in the day, it made sense, and maybe it still does for the later stages of editing, but surely all they need at first is the actual text, and surely it’s easier to read and appreciate a text in the format most books are finally printed? You don’t see finished books for sale printed with double line spacing because it’s not a good way to read them.

In any case I like to type my words into a document formatted as if it was the final book – it makes it more real for me, although I much prefer to do the original writing in notebooks.


Three Black ‘n Red A4 notebooks – the majority of ‘Bums’ was plotted and written in these

I suppose I’d better get on with it . . .

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Jack of Hearts

jackofheartsIT was almost ground into the pavement outside the gift shop – a single playing card – the Jack of Hearts.

I took a snap on my phone thinking I might post it to the Facebook group – Found Objects Forum. I often think about posting stuff to the group but rarely do – probably because its founder – Marc Robert Roberts of Zeuk and Chapter fame, does such a great job with his own photos and commentary I feel my efforts are paltry by comparison. it’s worth checking out if you like that sort of thing. (Click here to have a peek)

Anyway, I haven’t posted it to the group and probably never will.

It did get me thinking though – about another Jack of Hearts I was involved in a while ago.  This was a television series from 1999 starring Keith Allen as a hard-boiled probation officer. I worked on the production for two weeks during filming at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay. I use the term ‘work’ in the sense that I got paid (not much – OK £70) for hanging around on set for up to 12 hours a day and occasionally walking about or pretending to chat in the background of a scene. I only did it because I was skint.

The star of the show was Keith Allen, who, coincidentally I knew for a while when he was a teenager. He was one of my brother’s best friends and even then his riotous behaviour foreshadowed his future reputation as a bit of a wild man.

So, the TV series, Jack of Hearts, was a flop, though it didn’t too much damage to the future of BBC Wales, who are now at the top of their game with the worldwide success of other shows made by them including Doctor Who and Sherlock, along with the Roath Lock studios and the building of their brand new headquarters smack bang in the centre of the capital city.

I don’t know why Jack of Hearts failed to get much of an audience, it was a tight production with decent actors, a good director, and a hard-working professional crew. The concept seemed reasonable enough and though the script had some development issues it was as good as it could be.

It’s the same with creative work of any kind – you just never know how something is going to turn out or how it will be received. Obviously the work has to have some merit and has to be approved by a sufficient number of informed people to validate it. Or does it? That’s another question, but my point is that no matter how much time, skill, and energy you put into a project you can never be sure of its success Just look at the credits for Jack of Hearts on the Internet Movie Database – IMDB. It’s a page lacking in any detailed information and you’ll notice that the star Keith Allen’s name seems to be missing in the visible main cast list, but just look at how many talented people were involved in making the series – and they had all the resources of the BBC behind them.

Still a flop!

So, what’s the secret then? Persistence? Hard work? Talent? Connections?  Or do you have to be some sort of gregarious likeable person? You probably need most of the above attributes but you need one other crucial ingredient – what’s called luck! I mean, the mere fact that you exist is in the multi-trillions to one region, as close as you can get to an impossibility as it’s possible to get. The fact that a particular unique mix of nature and nurture came together and created the indescribable complexity of you is a miracle in itself.

So, if life is a gift worth having then you’re already lucky beyond measurement.

Funny what thoughts a grubby playing card can stimulate.


I was walking through Riverside earlier when I saw bunch of seagulls swoop into an alley.

Gulls swooping - the pigeons have beaten them to it

Gulls swooping – the pigeons are in the race too

I think it was a pile of breadcrumbs against the wall that attracted them

A minute later I saw a bunch of humans bobbing and drifting on the river Taff

Paddling standing up on the Taff

Bobbing on the Taff

Seagulls in an alley! Humans on the water! What’s the world coming to?

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Bums Cover again

I don’t know whether this cover that’s emerged into the pixellated light is going to make it all the way to print or whether it will be completely rethought and redesigned. I think I need to leave it for a bit while the final proofreading of the text (81,900 words – 260 pages) takes place sometime in the next month.

Latest version of the cover for Bums

Latest version of the front cover for Bums – the novel

BUMS-COVER FULL 50 percent

The full cover- front and back – with blurb

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bums cover – first look


proposed cover for my new novel ‘Bums’: coming soon

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a bit of a ramble about bums


obligatory relevant picture to break up and enhance the flow of text

Not those sorts of bums, I’ve told you before, you and your dirty mind. You and your associations and preconceptions, your preconditioning and your naive acceptance of the cultural hegemony. No, the sort of bums I’m talking about are the sort of people who live on the edges of ‘normal’ society – the homeless, the drug addicts, wasters, layabouts, the disabled and the disadvantaged, the freaks and the drop-outs, the burglars and handbag-snatchers, the most loathed and the most feared, the abused and the abusers, the victims and the carers – anyone in fact, because there is no such thing as ‘normal’.

But, let’s narrow it down to the sort of people who, if you were inclined to use such language, you might, between clenched teeth, refer to as ‘bums’. Take Smelly Shelley, a middle-aged bag woman, stinking of piss and bad attitude – what’s her story? How did she get here? And Bernard, a shambolic mess of learning difficulties and obsessive behaviour – and Greg, a middle-class and useless young drug dealer. Or Karl, the dodgy nightclub owner and his brutish brother Byron. These are just some of the characters that Detective Inspector Frank Lee encounters as he investigates the bizarre killing of the headmaster of the largest school in the county.

DI Frank Lee is an ex-punk-new-age-traveller motivated to catch the real bad guys and not at all bothered about anyone else’s definition of what constitutes crime. He goes about his work in a calm zen-like way, believing that the solutions will unveil themselves in their own way and in their own time. Despite this apparently laid back attitude, he gets results, and he gets them quick.

So ‘Bums’ is the title of my next novel. I finished it a few months ago and it’s been sitting, lurking at the back of my hard drive since then, waiting for the right moment to emerge and reveal itself to the world – well, hopefully to a few readers anyway.

With a bit of luck Bums will be published in September 2015 – or even sooner.

More soon . . .

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