Next Thursday December 15th
more details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/
Next Thursday December 15th
more details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/
On December 15th 2016 from 5:45pm until 7:00pm I will be at Cardiff Central Library reading from and discussing two of my novels – Boys from the Backfields and Cheats and Liars. I might also discuss some of my other books and possibly talk a little bit about the publishing process.
Boys from the Backfields is a murder mystery set over half a century. The story begins in the 1960’s when Mick a young teenage boy and his little gang witness the murder of Betty Fish while out blackberry picking around the Backfields council estate in South Wales. Mick is haunted by this tragic event for the next 50 years until finally the truth is revealed and the mystery is solved.
Cheats and Liars is set in an affluent inner suburb of Cardiff and follows Brian Llewelyn, ‘The Greatest Living Artist in Wales’ as he comes to realise that his success depends on the sycophants, cheats and liars that share in it. The novel follows Brian as the foundations his life is based on crumble from under him and he has to redefine what is important.
There will also be plenty of time for any questions from the audience.
This is part of the Library’s Open Space Events series and it’s free but space is limited so it might be best to book through Eventbrite where if you search ‘Open Space Cardiff’ you should be able to find them, though, as I write this it may be too early for the December event’s listing.
I’m very pleased to say that my paintings are now on the walls of the Off the Wall Gallery in Llandaff. The gallery is a proper gem of a place close to the cathedral and the High Street and its walls host the work of some of the most sought-after artists working in the UK today.
The gallery really is worth visiting in person, the paintings are exhibited beautifully. If you want a preview click on the image below to visit their website or click here:
Here’s some paintings I’ve been working on for the past few weeks:
I’m not sure if they are finished yet. I like to leave them for a while and take a fresh look, so there is a possibility that these images will change completely and effectively cease to exist except as a low resolution image on this website.
4 of the paintings are the same size, that is A2 or 594mm x 420mm; the other is twice the size at 800mm x 600mm.
(: More painting news very soon 🙂
Acrylic on Canvas 800mm x 600mm
Here’s a painting from nearly 15 years ago – one of the first I did. It was painted on the back of a placard/protest sign that I had previously used in a satirical community play I wrote called ‘The History of Llangennech – Part 2’
Blodyn has become a bit of an icon for me since I painted her. She was used on the cover of my poetry collection “The Words in Me” and will be used again on the cover of my new collection “More Words in Me” due to be published in a couple of months.
Here she is:
And here’s the back of Blodyn
What do I mean? I mean this is a short story with no style and no substance.
Why not? Style is taste, substance is an illusion.
Fair enough, but I don’t understand.
You don’t need to.
I mean I don’t understand the point of it.
Your short story. This.
Nor me. In fact I’d go so far as to say that there is no point to it.
But what’s the point of that? Why should I read it?
I don’t know. Do you need a reason?
Well, yes, otherwise I’d be wasting my time, my breath, my life.
Look at me shrugging. Read what you like, or not. Who cares?
Well, you should, it’s your short story. Don’t you want people to read it?
Yes of course, but I still don’t care if they do or not.
If you say so.
So what’s it about?
Nothing. It’s got no substance.
What’s the point . . . oh, never mind.
Good, you’re learning.
No I’m not.
Yes you are. You’ve learned that there’s no point.
No point to what?
No point trying to find a point in something that has no point.
OK. If you say so.
I was being sarcastic.
Because you’re winding me up.
Because of your stupid story that has no style and no substance.
And no point.
So what’s the problem then?
You’re doing my head in.
With all this story nonsense.
Well you don’t have to read it.
Fuck off then . . . .
Two new paintings, temporarily named ‘The Red One’ and ‘The Green One’, both completed very recently, followed by the classic ‘Bright Environment’ which was painted 13 years ago.
Besides their obvious stylistic similarities there’s a reason why these three paintings are linked and why I am noting their existence now.
But more of that in a couple of weeks.
Myself is in a shell,
Being hung up
I shed my shell,
I am being sat;
Upon a wave
My shell is shed,
Do I find to be done.
In the phase,
Outside, it’s muchly warm.
I am being moved myself,
But be looked
We Us-self do change
Our scenes and our shells
And in the interim of truth
We’ve such a much to tell
Last Saturday I attended a screenprinting workshop at the Printhaus in Llandaff Road, Cardiff.
The Printhaus is an amazing and unique place which is equipped with comprehensive screenprinting facilities. I have always loved the idea of screenprinting and did a bit a very long time ago when we lived in a shared house in Cardiff associated with an Ashram in the seventies.
We used to print posters and sometimes on canvas bags.
This is what I printed – actually this is a photoshopped photograph of what I printed, the original is much more organic and lovely.
Just 4 copies were printed and the stencils were washed off the screens in between each colour. As you can see it was designed in 4 colours – red for the hair/petals, dark reddish-brown for the face and lettering (although it looks more like black in the photo), green for the body and yellow for the features and the buttons.
Each of the four prints is unique because of the slightly arbitrary way the card was positioned under the screen when applying the paint through the stencil. The stencils were made of thin tracing paper and were destroyed during the process of cleaning the screens, so this truly is a limited edition.
When the Internet took hold a small proportion of people started keeping blogs or journals of their thoughts online. Then Facebook and Twitter and all the other social media platforms emerged, and now everyone tells everyone else every day what they’re thinking, whether that’s by sharing content they relate to from other sources, or whether it’s by the creation of their own original text and imagery.
This is all welcome of course, it gives those whose voices were previously unheard a way to let the world, or at least their extended social networks, know what’s important to them. It doesn’t stop there either: if you want to publish a book it’s easy, just open an account with Createspace, upload the text and cover image and it will be available worldwide almost instantly. It’s free and you don’t even have to buy a copy yourself. Fancy getting your artwork onto T-Shirts or mugs or greetings cards? – just as simple. And if you haven’t got the time or skills to do it yourself there’s always some student willing to do it for the price of a pizza.
As a bonus, now and again a seemingly random scribbler is raised from the ranks and elevated to the status of superstar vlogger or best selling writer of tacky fiction, thus giving us all hope that one day, as long as we continue with our prattle we might be discovered and earn those millions we have always deserved.
But what does it mean to all the people who previously defined themselves as professional writers or artists or photographers? Those who spent time and money studying, and dedicated most of their lives to improving their skills and producing ‘work’? I mean nobody wants to pay for anything anymore, least of all for the witterings and snapshots of some stranger when they can get all the above and more from their ‘friends’ for nothing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you’re someone like me who has been writing since long before the advent of social media then it’s tempting to believe that all the noise now being created by every person and their companion animal is somehow diluting the literary or artistic merit of published work. I mean, without the traditional gatekeepers, who knows what kind of hideous barbarians will enter the citadel?
On the other hand you may think that the privileged few who were allowed entry in the past have finally got what’s coming to them, and now have to be judged by the whole hive mind rather than just protected by a small cohort of praetorian guards.
I’m not sure, but I do believe that most people, whether they define themselves as writers or artists or neither, are capable, with lots of practice and a little guidance, of creating work that is every bit as good as that which was previously created by the few patricians lucky enough to have had the opportunities in the dark ages before the Internet.
I fancied making a pizza the other day but was fed up of those pale lacklustre crusts available from supermarkets so decided to make my own dough.
I chose wholemeal bread flour and quick yeast since that’s what was in the cupboard, made the dough and used half of it to make a pizza base, rolling it out into a large rectangle to fit the oven tray. I made a round loaf with the other half of the dough.
Unfortunately the pizza base didn’t rise and then I burnt it in the oven – probably because I’d flattened it too much with the rolling pin and cooked it too quickly.
The bread turned out lovely – and a tasty, if dense, loaf emerged. So I cut that into rounds and used them as pizza bases.
I made far too much topping, stacked it on the rounds of bread and baked it slowly until the cheezly made an attempt at melting.
The BEBS is a very prestigious award made just once – I mean how could it be awarded more than once – it’s for the Best Ever Book after all.
My latest book ‘To Me’ beat all other competition from all time, past, present and future hands down.
I would just like to express my thanks to the BEBS and to myself for writing such a marvellous award-winning tome.
Whenever I see appeals for money or support for animal rescue charities the first thought that comes to my mind is ‘What do they feed the animals they rescue?’ I suppose in the case of naturally vegetarian animals the answer is vegetable material of some sort, but what about carnivores like cats, or omnivores like dogs?
For example, just today, on a vegan Facebook group someone issued a plea for donations to save a charity in Cwmbran, apparently if they do not get funding they may have to kill the hundred or so animals in their care since it costs £5000 a week to run the place. According to their website the list of animals they look after includes: Horses, Shetland Ponies, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Rat, Cats, Birds and Dogs.
Now, excuse me if I’m being daft but don’t cats eat birds and ferrets eat rabbits?
They also say on their website that one of their staff has an interest in ‘goat husbandry’, which is the keeping of goats in order to harvest their milk and meat. They are also planning a horse tack sale, which I presume is equipment used to control and abuse horses?
On the same Facebook group I recently asked the organiser of the so-called Welsh Vegan Festival, why is it that the Farplace animal rescue charity they are raising funds for keeps rescued chickens yet has included dog food containing chicken meat on their Amazon wishlist. He ignored me.
So how about this animal rescue centres – feed the rescued carnivores with the rescued birds and rabbits, and a bit of sheep, or pig, or horse-meat if you like – that way you would have a lot less animals to look after and you wouldn’t have to raise so much money to buy them food.
Signed copies of my novels now available from my website
The path to the cabin was choked with brambles; that was good. It meant that no one had been near the place for months at least.
‘Ssh,’ Emma said.
‘No, it’s all right now,’ he said. ‘Look – there’s no sign of another human being – we’ll be safe here.’
‘But it’s not human beings we’re hiding from, is it Jack?’
‘Of course they’re human beings; you’ve been watching too many episodes of Doctor Who.’
‘Oh shut up. I know what I saw. You saw it too. If that was a person then it was still a monster – more than just a normal person.’
‘Yes, but it’s still got to move around, whatever it is and it would leave traces.’
‘What if it can fly?’ Emma asked.
The sun was blotted by some shadow.
I thought I’d written about this before but can’t find it anywhere. I know I did write a poem at least, and I know it ended with the line ‘But there’s always burnt jam.’ I can’t find that either. I wonder how many other poems or snippets of writing I’ve lost, many of them on paper from my teenage years, and many more on broken computer disks since. Ah! Sometimes you just have to let things drift down to the dim depths of the Akashic Records.
It was the late sixties, possibly 1970; I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I used to hang around with a group of young people from around the town of Llanelli, where we behaved in ways that defined that period if you believe the myths that have arisen since. The truth was there were not that many of us, no more than a few dozen – a hundred or so at the most, and that from a population of around 77,000.
We were a small group, but we were highly visible because of the way we dressed and the way we behaved – roving around the streets, openly smoking joints and tripping on acid, as well as squatting the grass opposite the town hall, playing guitars and engaging in free love, well free foreplay at least. Continue reading
The Artistic Imperative
* Warning – this is a self-indulgent ramble *
When I was young I was told I was very clever. ‘You are so intelligent,’ they used to say. I was also a very nice kid – generous, gentle, helpful and uncomplaining. I was full of life – ‘Fond of play’ as my form teacher wrote on my final report from the primary school. I was top of the class, number one of thirty-four, and that was in the A stream in the final year at that school – so at that time I was the top pupil of the whole school.
To be fair my teacher recognised this and wanted me to apply for a scholarship to go to Llandovery College – a private school around thirty miles from my home – it would have meant boarding I believe.
But, my parents didn’t have the wherewithal, either in monetary terms or in imagination to pursue the idea and the teacher realising it was an impossibility, let it go. As it happens, I’m glad about this, I don’t think I’d like the person I would have become if I’d spent those important years of my childhood in such a place.
Now, I’m approaching my 65th birthday – my mother is disappointed in me. I can see it in her eyes – and anyway, she says it often enough. ‘You used to be so clever,’ she’ll say. ‘You could have done so much.’ Continue reading