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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno’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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TLT – Tofu Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich


Today’s lunch: Super tasty – Tofu, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

Marinate cubes or strips of tofu in tamari, garlic, chilli and ginger before frying in sesame oil until they start to brown. Add freshly chopped or sliced tomatoes and stir for a minute, adding extra tamari and/or seasoning if it floats your boat.

Pile into two slices of your favourite bread with crisp fresh local lettuce.

The bread in the photo is one of my favourites, the organic granary from Allen’s bakery in Cardiff. It’s always good, but when it’s ultra-fresh it’s dangerously good!

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and in the end it doesn’t matter

I wrote a play a long time ago called ‘Tossers’. Looking for a tag to describe what sort of play it was, I dubbed it ‘a surreal pointless play’. There’s no point me trying to describe it because it actually is a surreal pointless play. It was performed as part of the On the Edge series at Chapter Arts Centre around ten years ago and it went down well. You can read it by clicking here.

So, why doesn’t it matter in the end, or indeed at any other time? Well, the truth is that it doesn’t matter because whatever it is, it is so tiny and insignificant that it has no effect, so doesn’t matter. On the always present other hand, it, whatever it is, is all that matters. Trouble is it’s quite impossible for me to convey the meaning of what I’m trying to say by describing it in  this way, so like many who are trying to describe the indescribable I turn to some form of art – in this case words, put together in the form of a stage play.

I wrote another play with a similar idea behind it called ‘it doesn’t matter’. That play has yet to be produced but you can read it by clicking here.

The point is that there is no point, but, that doesn’t matter either. And there’s no point me going on trying to explain it – what I’m saying might be, and probably is, a load of bollocks anyway.

Another way of thinking about it is that . . . . oh who am I kidding, I can’t describe it, so let’s just sit back, breathe deeply and enjoy the view.

An enjoyable view?

An enjoyable view?

And it carries on anyway, whether you’re in the game or not, whether it even is a game or not.

Do you think the universe is dissolving into a kind of smear? Maybe smear is too dirty a word – perhaps kaleidoscope is better? Except the word kaleidoscope implies patterns and all I can see is a randomness. something like the image below.


Portion of sky photographed by the Hubble Telescope

That’s one way of looking at it I suppose.

And with that, a week of writing a blog post every day comes to an end. It was an experiment. I don’t know if it will carry on.

Oh! Except here is a picture of a lovely door/gate – there’s something behind it!!!!

Door to somewhere

Door to somewhere

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how it all works – part 2

click here for part 1


  1. Always look on the bright side of life.
  2. People and a pigeon

A walk into town to meet my wife from work and buy a new blender. We’ve been using a horrible cheap smoothie maker to make tofu for the past few years. Thankfully, it degenerated into a dysfuntional lump of plastic and metal, and so, if we wanted to continue making home-made tofu, we had no choice other than to buy a new blender type instrument; it had to have a fairly large capacity – at least 1.5 litres, and be heavy duty enough to cope with grinding up soaked soya beans efficiently enough to justify making home-made tofu in the first place.

I got to town earlier than planned, because instead of walking I jumped on a passing bus, so I went for a walk around, pausing in the market where I bought 2 dairy-free bounty-type bars from Clancys, the vegetarian stall.

After coming out of the market I heard someone playing the guitar and singing the song “Always look on the bright side of life,” from the Monty Python film. As I got closer it amused me to see that the guy with the gitbox had the most miserable expression I’d ever seen on a busker.

What I really wanted to do was to film a video of him singing that song with that downturned mouth – I’m not kidding – it would have got a fair few views on Youtube I’m sure. But,  because I’m too shy, or not cheeky enough, or a coward, I carried on walking past for going on for 50 metres and took the photo that the picture below has been cropped from – it’s only a phone camera after all.

always look on the bright sideAs you can see, he’s looking the other way so I didn’t catch the expression I told you about.

He wasn’t bad actually – voice-wise and music-wise – I’ve paid to see less entertaining performers.

I’ve never done any busking but I did beg on the street once or twice, mostly in Tenby when I was about seventeen; sleeping on the beach and harassing holidaymakers.

The police threw us out of town in the end. They drove me and a mate Jimmy, from Birmingham, to a spot just outside the town boundaries and told us to bugger off.

We hitched to Torquay – got harassed out of there eventually as well. But that was a long time ago.

I was still too early so I sat on a small bench type piece of street furniture outside the library and watched the people and the pigeonspigeon and people outside library doing their things.

It was busier than it looks in the photograph – and sunnier.

We’re going out for a drink tonight – now, in fact. Hope it’s not too busy. Will report back . . . .

It’s twenty past eleven, back from the arty-farty centre after 3 pints of cider and a quarter packet of crisps. Had some proper craic with some proper people or maybe I was just a little drunk.

Besides the people we had arranged to meet we bumped into an old (young) friend from the old (old) village. He’s an actor now and doing all right.

Overall we talked about art and music, theatre and television performance, writing and publishing – what did you expect in an arty centre?

But after all that the point is that it just all goes on – I mean in our small party there were people over 60, people in their fifties, people in their mid-forties and early thirties and people who haven’t quite left their teens, but the point is that we were all human beings of the sort that are willing to investigate and challenge the received wisdoms that we are required to subscribe to – up to our own individual limits anyway.

I get the feeling that this piece of writing is not working so I may abandon it now , , ,

But, hold on. I promised you I’d tell you how it all works – if you believed the title of this blog post that is. And since it’s related to part 1 then it should have at least a little relevance to that previous post where we talked about how many stars there are in the universe – i.e. – out there.

So, now we must talk about in here, you know, we must drill down into the sub-atomic level and beyond that even into the quantum foam.

Suffice it to say that where there are 400 billion stars in the galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe then are are just as many particles, or bits of stuff, at the quantum level. As far as I know from my limited knowledge of quantum mechanics and from the results of my own contemplative thoughts then everything is made of particles from molecules via atoms to sub-atomic particles, But when you examine a particle then it is far too small to actually see it – it exists only by the effect it has, and individually a particle is far too small to have any effect anyway – so there is nothing!

What it all boils down to is that nobody knows anything and anyone who tells you they know something to be an absolute truth is either daft or deluded.

But the way it goes is that we have to use what we’ve got, so, just let it be, get on with it. Keep on trucking!

That’s how it all works.

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how it all works – part 1

It’s all a bit random and it could have all come together in endless different ways, but this is the reality we have to deal with. According to the latest quantum thinking there are multiple versions of the universe and they all exist in parallel. I find this difficult to understand, or to get my head round, as they say. Maybe that’s because my head isn’t the right tool to do the job of understanding, maybe it’s too small – after all, even just in physical terms, my head takes the space of a small watermelon.

Comparatively, a melon-sized head is infinitely small in an infinite universe, even our dear Mother Earth is a tiny smudge in the night sky when viewed from Venus and in the context of the galaxy our precious planet is a grain of sand that’s slipped between the pebbles on Brighton beach – There are up to 400 billion stars in our little galaxy – The Milky Way; and and there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe – and that’s just the observable universe and that’s just one of countless parallel universes.

milky-wayWhat some people think The Milky Way looks like. There’s 400 billion stars in there.

The numbers dissolve into mulch and become meaningless, but let’s just say that in the grand scheme of things a single person is beyond insignificance. But I know, yes, I know, that one single person is also the most significant thing there is or was or ever will be, because in the end, without that person, without that consciousness to experience it, those billions of galaxies and gadzillions of stars might as well not be there. They’d be unseeable and unknowable and unknown forever.

Doesn’t mean we’ll ever get our heads round it though. I mean, think about it. If we could understand the multiverse with something the size of a melon then there’d be something very wrong with it (them).

So, how does it all work then?

Maybe I’ll come back to that one.

In the meantime:

It’s only 9 am. As usual I have Radio 4 on in the background. I do sometimes listen to Radio Wales or Radio 6, and occasionally Radio 3, but more often than not Radio 4 is my companion during the day and has been for decades. I’m just wondering what that’s done and is still doing to my take on how it all works.

“You’ve got to fight for every little thing you want to achieve.” Words of wisdom from Rebecca Adlington, Olympic swimmer, who is the guest on this morning’s Desert Island Discs. But, is that true or is it just a part of the world view we’re expected to stick to and which is propagated on mainstream media such as BBC Radio 4. What does a lifetime of absorbing Jenny Murray’s drone and Melvyn Bragg’s whine do to your mind?

Who the fuck am I? What would I be like if I had donated my brain to Radio Hip-Hop instead? Would there be any difference anyway, since both types of media delivery are based on the idea that we must share a common vista. What if you didn’t engage in all that? One of my Facebook friends has just posted a link to a news story about a man who became a hermit for 27 years. The headline is: ‘What Happens to Your Identity When You Don’t Speak to Anyone for 27 Years?”

The hermit article goes on to say: ‘Anyone who reveals what he’s learned, Chris told me, is not by his definition a true hermit.’

Maybe I’ll come back to that too.

God, that Rebecca Adlington is full of herself isn’t she? You’re just a swimmer mate, you’re not going to bring world peace or anything. OK, she’s a success, I get it, she’s worked hard for what she’s achieved, she deserves it – yeah yeah OK. And she is quite young I suppose so perhaps her full-of-herself-ness is forgiveable.

Do I sound bitter? I’m not really, I understand that life and everyone, every creature even, who possesses it, is as complicated as the aforementioned multiverses, but that doesn’t mean I buy into the middle-class, middle-of-the-road, middle brow stew that the BBC and particularly Radio 4, has been pumping into my brain since I crawled from the swamp of adolescence.

I will not be brainwashed.

Resist . . .

Resist . . .

Resist . . . . . .

click here for part 2

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midsummer madness

Have the seasons slipped? It doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of summer although I know it will be the longest day of the year on Sunday. To be fair it is a nice day today but I’m spending most of it sitting in front of computer screens working on book covers and suchlike.

wssn-cover-all2-lrA book cover I’m working on

Does every day have to have a theme – like a story? Is every day a different story?

I suppose the answer is the same answer that is the usual answer to everything – it is and it isn’t, depending on your perspective. The truth is that every nanosecond is different than every other nanosecond – during the time between the beginning of one nanosecond and the beginning of another a trillion trillion molecules have shifted, or degenerated into atoms, or been created by the coming together of free atoms or however it all works at a molecular level.

At and below the molecular level everything is in a state of flux. Nothing is dependable enough to say it’s the same as something else.

But on the more prosaic level of day-to-day life I know that if I rub some soap under some water it will create a lather, so one bar of soap is much like any other bar of soap. And that’s the rub I guess, it’s not the same, it’s just ‘much like’, similar enough to be dependable enough – there are no absolutes.

If we extrapolate that across space and time then it means that since we human beings are composed of molecules (even our brains) then we are constantly changing too. I’m different than I was when I started typing this sentence and I’ll be different again by the time I get to the end.

On a practical level what this means is that nobody really knows anything for certain, life is just one big guessing game.

There was a dodgy guy in front of me in the queue for the till at the co-op earlier. I say dodgy because I couldn’t work him out, couldn’t put him into a nice little box with a label that said ‘middle-aged man, bit rough’. I mean, that’s what he was, but he was also much more of course. He was muttering to himself for one thing, and twitching, and looking around nervously and edging too close to the bloke in front of him. So I held back, kept at least a step away from him in case he went feral.

He answered his phone as he approached the counter and bellowed into it: “I’m in the supermarket – in the queue – it’s noisy – hang on.” I  didn’t hear his phone ring, it may have been set to vibrate only of course, but I suspected he was only doing it for effect. You know, he was telling the world – “I’m not mad, I don’t twitch and mutter to myself in the queue for the till – I have actually got real friends, people who like me and respect me enough to call me while I’m in the supermarket.”

Or maybe I was just being paranoid.

Anyway, he didn’t go mad, not visibly, not then anyway, but he was still outside near the exit when I left, and he was still shouting into his phone, even though it was quiet there.

It’s about a quarter past six. I’m popping out to see a friend the other side of town now, in a minute . . .

Gone 8pm. Back from the other side and brought a memento – a holiday snap if you like

mossy-treeThe bark of a mossy tree from the other side

The original photo is much higher resolution but you should be able to get the gist – it’s a world of its own – it really is.

So, my mate was, as usual, charming, intelligent, and entertaining. We had a little chinwag about ageing and reminisced about crazy days gone by. For example, he saw a mouse in his house the other day and it reminded him of a time when he was about eighteen and sharing a house with his friends. They used to cook chips in a saucepan full of lard until one day they noticed mouse droppings in the pan along with scratches where the furry little critters had tucked in to the glistening white lardiness.

“Eugh!” (or something that sounded like that) I said.

“Oh, it was OK,” he said. “We just scraped the droppings out with a spoon and made the chips anyway.”

“I’ve also got a pet slug,” he said. “Well I hope it’s just one. I think he hides under the settee, comes out every night, and makes a pattern on the mat. I run my foot over it in the morning and it vanishes. I don’t mind. Slug trails are harmless, made from good stuff – I saw it on Springwatch the other day. I don’t mind the mouse either to be honest – better than the hundreds we used to live with back in the 70’s.”

Mouse-dropping man also told me he’d been for a drive to Caerphilly Mountain earlier, with another friend of his from back in the lardy days. They’d sat on a bench and reminisced, pinching the skin on each others’ arms to see whose was the loosest.

“Fucking ageing!” he shook his head,

“Madness,” I said.

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Wednesday Woes

I’m Wednesday’s child and therefore reputedly full of woe. There is, in the bottom of a biscuit tin somewhere in my mother’s attic, a creased black and white photograph of me at around 3 years old and if the expression I’m wearing in it is a typical one then there’s something in those old nursery rhymes.

It’s my wife’s day off and it’s already well past midday. It’s been a slow morning. Despite that a lot has been achieved so we’re off to Chapter – possibly for lunch (depending on how busy it is).

It’s gone two now. We did a bit of shopping and had Thai Carrot soup (vegan of course) for lunch in Chapter. Before we bought the soup we decided to become Chapter Friends, i.e. pay a membership fee and get some tasty discounts – we’ve already made £1.04p on the soup and got some free cinema tickets.

Here’s a picture of some Thai Carrot Soup

carrot_coconut_soup_2It’s not the actual Thai Carrot Soup we had in Chapter because I forgot to take a picture of it. This picture is from a recipe on the Peta Website.

The soup we had didn’t look like the soup in the picture either, ours was more soup-like and looked less like a blob of puréed vegetables.

The recipe is probably not the same either, it might even be completely different – or possibly all Thai Carrot Soups are much the same.

There are so many unknowns in the course of an ordinary day – don’t you think?

I’m still tweaking the WSSN book and will be putting a page about it all on the Opening Chapter website.

Time for a cuppa I think!


strawbsStrawberries and soya yoghurt – better than cream. Not that Alpro soya yoghurt is much cop to be honest – it’s got too many additives including sugar, flavourings, and antioxidants – and it tastes weird.

Other, more natural, non-dairy yoghurts are available.

Everyone’s got their woes, I suppose

Everyone’s got their stress, I guess

We all want things to be good, they should (be)



No one is what they seem. I have only anecdotal evidence for this, I mean, having lived with myself since birth I still don’t understand myself let alone anyone else. For all I know there may be other people who are so clever that they do actually understand themselves and maybe some people exist who understand other people as well, and if such people do exist then they have my admiration and respect, but to be honest I’d bet my non-existent fortune that such people do not and never have existed.

Coincidentally, as I was halfway through writing the above paragraph, a friend who’s as complicated a person as complicated persons get, arrived on our doorstep needing a chat about their complicated life. After over two hours of listening and sharing our insights and observations, the friend left to meet some other people in a pub. And do you know what? Yes, you’re right, neither we nor the friend have got a fucking clue about what the best course of action is. It’s all ‘if this then that’ or ‘if that then this’ – it’s all swings and roundabouts – six of one – half a dozen of the other – there is no correct way to deal with anything.

As the friend was leaving I noticed there was a closed shopping bag left behind on the seat they’d been occupying. “Is that yours?” I asked. “Oh, bloody hell yes,” they said. “It’s my cat’s ashes.”

So if today has been about anything it’s been about uncertainty and impermanence; the  wisp of atmosphere we exist in is fragile and we are vulnerable, but in the end we do exist and that is magic enough!




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in anticipation of going out


Mark Steel is on the radio in Paisley doing his usual low-level piss-taking routine, tickling the locals with his research and turning trivial facts into jokes. To be fair, he’s quite entertaining and informative, but I’m not sure if it’s very funny. News on soon, then The Archers. I’ll probably leave the radio on – it provides some background company while working on my own even if I don’t actually pay any attention to what’s coming out of the speaker.

At some point in the next few hours I will be walking to town (i.e. the centre of Cardiff) to meet my wife, who is out after work, celebrating a colleague’s retirement.

I thought I could write a piece about expectations versus actualities – in this case, writing down what I expect to happen on the hour plus walk to town and back and then, after the event, writing down what actually happened.

But, I can’t imagine what will happen on that walk, partly because I just can’t – you know, it’s just a blank when I try to sift through the possibilities – there’s nothing there. The other reason I can’t imagine what will happen is because I don’t want to imagine it. Part of me had the idea to speculate and write it down, but a stronger part of me simply doesn’t want to know.

I wonder if that’s the deal we’ve made with life – you know, just get on with it, take things as they come, don’t think too much?

I heard on the aforementioned Radio 4 earlier that the accent a person speaks with has absolutely no correlation with how intelligent they are. So, just because you speak with a posh accent doesn’t mean you’re clever and/or just because you sound like a daft sheep-shagger doesn’t mean you’re thick.

Fair enough, at first glance. But if you think about it, have you ever heard a bloke who speaks with received pronunciation asking for a couple of quid to clean your windows? Or have you ever seen a sheep-shagger collecting an Olivier award?

The conclusion, for me at least, is that being successful, at least in monetary and mainstream terms is not a measure of how clever you are. You can be stupid, sound posh, and be successful or you can be intelligent, sound crass, and be poor.

It doesn’t really mean anything, all this, you know. It’s just words, it’s an attempt to connect, to share some common vision – to prove that we’re not alone.


Anyway – The Archers has just finished  and some review programme has just come on where some middle-class reviewer is talking about a Norwegian Crime Thriller which of course ‘is not just a Crime Thriller’.

It (and this) is getting boring.


Still sitting here, Radio 4 still on, now it’s an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. Lots of cleverly constructed dialogue but nothing new of course – it’s a story that’s been told a million times before and in a thousand different ways. Good old Cyrano has provided overpaid employment for many hundreds of scriptwriters, actors and directors.

Maybe that’s the answer, you can be too clever for your own good. Just find something that is considered ‘good’ by the arbiters of culture, and copy it, being careful to add a little twist so you can claim it’s your own work. Maybe that’s the real intelligent thing to do – who needs original thought and innovation?

Here’s a sketch of what’s supposed to be a beggar.

beggarA Beggar goes Pop!

Despite the speech bubble, the thing in his right hand is a crutch, not a gun.

Anyway – it’s just a doodle related to the cover of my next novel – ‘Bums’. There’s more about that elsewhere.



I’ve been told there’s no such thing as ‘seagulls’ – they’re just ‘gulls’ apparently, but a lifetime of conditioning will not allow me to accept that, And while we’re on the subject of the nomenclature of birds, since when did some birds of prey become known as ‘raptors’? Anyway, I don’t really care about all that, but we were stalked by seagulls just now, on the way back from town. We bought some chips on the way up the main road and ate them as we walked home. A seagull circled above our heads, then another, then another,and so on, until there were at least seven of them; and as they circled they descended in slow spirals.

We covered the chips up and they dispersed, looking for another incorrectly filled recycling bag to shred no doubt. I thought about taking a photo but by the time I got my phone camera ready they’d gone over the rooftops. I took a picture anyway – of a seagull-less sky.

seagulls-notSeagulls – Not!

Then I saw half a bag of discarded potatoes on the pavement. I guess the seagulls weren’t interested in them because they weren’t cooked.

Fussy birds.

spudsVery bad photo of half a bag of spuds

Ah yes – it was a nice walk to town and back – a lovely evening.

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not been out

I’ve not been out the door today and it’s eleven pm already so it’s not likely to happen. Come to think of it I have been out the door, or doors, both back and front, but only to get the rubbish from the yard and put it out the front seeing as it’s bin day tomorrow.

It was a bit of a faff putting the bins out since it’s black bag / general waste week, and for once we’ve got a quarter bag of unrecyclable rubbish to put out. Trouble is, something’s gone rotten inside the bag because it’s probably been sitting there for a few weeks since we hardly ever have enough black-bag rubbish to put out.

Also, the top of the bag has been left open so it’s half full of stinking fetid rainwater, which could explain the smell that was hanging around the other day. When I lift the bag up, after recovering from the stench released, I notice that the water is not leaking, so I decide the best thing to do is to go out the front, find a drain, and stab a hole in the bottom of the stinking bag with a screwdriver, thus allowing the filthy water it contains to flow away as harmlessly as possible, then I will stuff the broken bag and it’s contents into another black bag, and another, until the smell is buried too deep to detect.

That’s what I did

Besides that I’ve been working most of the day on typesetting and applying the almost final edits to the WSSN book and fiddling about with the cover layout too.

I also made some soup. It was nice – spicy!

soupWhat was left of the Soup

Onions, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, chillies, red lentils, water, rapeseed oil, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots – Clean, chop, chuck in pan, boil, simmer = ready!

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what happened today

“What is human emotion? Love, anger, fear – violence?”

What does it mean to be human?

humanssHumans – Channel 4

Over the decades I’ve read hundreds of Science Fiction stories and so far there’s nothing new about Humans – Channel 4, Sunday June 14th, 9pm. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, I’m not sure about that yet – though if my arm was twisted then I’d say it was watchable but not great – not yet.

Anyway, I don’t do television reviews and this piece of writing is supposed to be about me shooting from the hip and writing whatever comes into my mind about what happened today. (Truthfully – there’s no way I could ever write ‘whatever’ came into my mind, because it would take forever – so this piece will inevitably have a theme, a focus, and will only represent a very tiny glimpse of what came into my mind – look, this could go on until hell is a snowball . . . .)

So, today, was/is a Sunday in June. What happened?

Here’s a list:

Gluten Free vegan cakes –  I ate a lot of gluten-free vegan cakes today, which is unusual since I rarely eat cake of any kind but when I do, they’re always vegan and sometimes gluten-free.

Watched television – including the aforementioned ‘Humans’ and ‘The Road to Coronation Street’ – a repeat of a drama on some Freeview channel called, I think, the Drama Channel. Quite touching in a strange way, perhaps because it reminded me of my Grandmother who lived for a time in the small parlour of the small house I grew up in and who was a Coronation Street addict. She used to shuffle into the living room, reeking of the germolene she used to slather on an open wound on her leg, three times a week or whatever it was then.

She was lovely, my Gran, but always quiet and mysterious. I think she was illegitimate and became an orphan early on after her mother fell down the stairs. There was a German Captain Voss in her mix of ancestors but I’m not sure exactly where he fitted in and the uncle who did know is dead. Gran married a bricklayer by the name of John Brennan whose father came from Ireland so they say. He died when I was very young of TB – she carried on for a while in our parlour, her and the stench of germolene.

Chilli plants – We visited the Riverside Market, where I got the Gluten-Free vegan cakes from and where Chris Fowler, who works in the library service with my wife, was selling chilli plants. We got one – a special white one – because of the library connection I guess.

We acquired the gluten-free cake from two sources. From Fran, who makes vegetarian and vegan pasties, pies and cakes, especially welshcakes, and who used to supply the shop Pulse Wholefoods that we used to run, and from Andy on the Naturally Kind stall, who sells all vegan cakes and raw cashew cream cheese-type cakes.

While I was talking to Fran one of the Super Furry Animals and the ex First Minister of Wales came to the stall and made purchases. Later, another of the Super Furry Animals drifted past, and Chris Fowler, the chilli man, stopped to talk to him (Chris’s brother Pete Fowler is the guy who does the artwork for the Super Furry Animals’ album covers).

There’s a lot more I/we should/could have done and in fact did plan to do – like go to the allotment, sort the curtains out in the back bedroom, finish tidying the middle/dining room, take a drive to the seaside or down the M4 to visit mothers; plus I’m supposed to be working on putting together the book of short stories for the Welsh Short Story Network, but it was/is a Sunday and I have a deep conditioning to chill on such a day.

Anyway – this is turning out to be a bit of a ramble and probably pointless at that, so I’ll go back to ‘Humans’. I had an idea when watching it that I would write a review so I made notes.

Here they are:

There’s nothing new in Humans so far, nothing I didn’t read decades ago in one Science Fiction story or another. (I used to consume them as regularly as I check Facebook nowadays)

Who are the real humans? What does it mean to be human?

What makes us human? Being human is a very special, unique thing.

You are ‘chosen’ if you’re human, unlike, say, a rat, or a pig, fit only for for killing or eating or both.

Purpose of life.

Value of a human life – all that jazz.

Importance of memory -> identity

gradually unfolds that some of the Synths are conscious (machine life)

“these freaks are the singularity”


if you didn’t get it they spelt it out at the end

“What is human emotion?”





How do you teach a computer to forget?

In the end, at the end of the first episode, we have now got used to the world the writer and the production team have constructed – from now on it’s just an ordinary drama with all the usual human tropes

That’s it!!!


veggie-veganVeggie/Vegan stalls on Riverside Market

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