Marking an event

Last Saturday, December 8th 2018, along with Dafydd Wyn Roberts, I held an event at the Apothecary in Cardiff. They have a lovely little caff at the back of their shop.

Dafydd played 4 songs accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, and I read three excerpts from my novels.

It went like this – Song-Reading-Song-Reading-Song-Reading-Song or something like that.

Before, during, and at the end of the song-reading cycle we chatted to each other and to the audience.

It was a great night and everyone who was there loved it. Dafydd’s act was excellent, good songs well sung and played. We may do it again – watch this space (well not this space, but some other space)

here’s the poster for the event again

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Call me a novelist

(This is a personal note to myself – please ignore.)

I’m a writer. There’s no doubt about that, as you would see if you bothered to explore my website. It’s mostly about writing and most of it has been written – by me of course. Problem is ‘writer’ is too wide a term to be meaningful to anyone who doesn’t identify as a ‘writer’. I mean, what am I? I write blog posts like this, and . . . well . . . here’s a list of the other things I write:

Poems
Short Stories
Articles
Plays for the theatre
Television Scripts
Jokes
Monologues
Rants
Rambles
blah
blah

But if I was forced to define more finely what it is that makes me a writer then I would say: “Call me a novelist”. I would say this even though I have not published a new novel for three years because there is something divine about writing a novel, something that takes a direct line to the absolute essence of my being – it is an experience, or a conglomeration of experiences, that means everything, forever.

So yeah – get on with it.

A little Work in Progress from a novel

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The Thing about Jill

Extract from Work in Progress novel – The Flying Boy

Audio here:

Transcript below:

You. You.You. It’s all about you isn’t it? Yes of course, you think. Who else is it going to be about? There is only you, in your life anyway. Is that sociopathic? Or some kind of pathic? You only know about yourself. You can’t know about anyone else – only what you are allowed to know by whatever this universe is. Ah – there it is, it’s about a u-niverse, so, yes, it is all about you.

But you still have to breathe air, share, and even you admit you don’t know everything. In fact you know hardly anything, possibly nothing. For example you tell people you are writing meta fiction but you don’t even know what meta fiction is until you look it up in the great big dictionary in the sky, just to check that you aren’t talking crap and could be called out by a first year literature student. But you are talking crap aren’t you? You are talking crap because for one thing the great dictionary told you that what you think is meta fiction probably isn’t – for one thing it seems to be spelled metafiction as one word, and the rest of it, well, there’s too many subtleties in the definitions of the word and not many come close to the sort of thing you’re writing. So yeah, you are writing something that is probably not metafiction, but you’re not sure – maybe it’s meta fiction or even meta-fiction.

So what. You’re not writing according to some spurious literary rule. You are writing the truth. You don’t know who Jill is. This is important. Because Jill is . . .  Jill is what? Hmm. You can’t deal with all this now. You have bigger fish to fry, or maybe you would if you fried fish. But you don’t fry fish; you don’t do anything with or to fish except look at them now and again in a friend’s pond or dead on the slabs of a fishmonger in the market.

There was that time, maybe thirty years ago, when you were involved with fish more than you wanted to be, more than you should have been. It was an actual fishing competition organised by your brother. He was a fisherman. Not a professional fisherman. He didn’t sell them or anything, though he no doubt traded the odd fish for some other advantage because that’s the sort of person he was, but he had a boat and loads of tackle, and he organised a sea fishing competition. You helped him by creating and managing a little computer database to record the details of the fish the competitors brought back to the weigh-in.

Stop! Pardon. Pause at least. OK.

When you’re writing like this it’s like applying the first daubs/splodges/lines of paint of an abstract painting on a canvas. You step back to look and at first it’s just random marks, random colours, random shapes and textures. Then you catch a hint of form. It starts to mean something and you start to realise that that meaning was there all along, it possessed your hands, your eyes, your brain. It used you to express itself. This is a divine thing – its form and its meaning will reveal themselves.

Restart.

(Martin Amis is your inspiration. Is he? Yes. Every time you read something about him or by him or see his name on a book cover you find yourself writing seconds later. Is that true? You’re doing it now. Ah! OK.)

Now really restart, resume maybe.

So helping your brother out at the fishing competition means sitting in a damp portakabin behind a makeshift desk, typing bits of information into a computer database. Things like contestant name and number, boat name, time of weigh, species of fish weighed, weight of fish.

Each species of fish has a specimen weight attached to it. So, a sardine say, has a specimen weight of a few grams, while a great white shark has a specimen weight of almost two tonnes or whatever. Not that you weigh any sardines or great white sharks, though there is a shark the size of a spaniel dog and some kind of flatfish with the circumference of a saucer.

At the end of the day there is a winner, the person whose fish is bigger than its species’ specimen weight by the largest factor. The spaniel-sized shark doesn’t win but the saucer sized flatfish might do. You can’t remember. You don’t want to remember.

All that must have been around the same time , late 80s, early 90s, that you read the book London Fields by Martin Amis, coincidentally, you’ve just read an interview with him in the Guardian (online) about the film that has just been released based on that book – London Fields (the film is rubbish apparently). Maybe that’s the reason you’re thinking about your brother’s fishing competition, some feint connection from three decades ago.

So yeah, maybe you have to admit that Martin Amis is your inspiration, your muse perhaps? I wonder what he would think about that? Being a muse for an also-ran novelist. You know what he is. He’s not a muse, he’s the sort of arrogant male artist who employs muses, uses them at least. He’s as much a muse as a jockey is a horse or a fish is bait.

But there you are, there he is, each in your respective universes, and there you will remain. Though Mr Amis does remind you of a dope-smoking friend you had for a while as a dope-smoking teenager. That friend was called Martin as well. He was not a tall person and used to walk around in a thick woollen coat that was too big for him.

Your Martin used to knock around with Jill. Hold on. You’d better stop there to think about it. Jill? Even that far back? Half a century? Is that possible? Are your memories real?

The thing about Jill is . . . .

What is the thing about Jill?

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Extract from Chapter twenty of “The Three Bears”

Let’s get the fucking paper the right way round. Let’s get the correct pen. Let’s get the fag rolled, the ashtray emptied, the fag lit and then let us begin. This is an exercise in creative writing, no, that’s Creative Writing, with two great big fucking capital letters, one at the beginning of each word to signify they represent more than the expression they convey. This is an exercise in Creative Writing.

The first rule of Creative Writing, they say, is to write about what you know, your own reality (ies?). So then it’s not exactly Fiction (another word with a capital first letter, watch out for these, and italics, and underlined, and bold – they mean that you’re not being creative enough), but it’s not exactly fact either (should Fact be capitalised?). You’ve heard of poetic (or artistic) license? Well that’s the third rule, (I forgot the second rule is not to use words with Initial Capital Letters unless they’re proper ones and not to use things like italics, underlining, bold etc. (or things like etc. come to that) Are there any more rules? Not really. In fact, the first three rules aren’t that important, in fact, fuck the rules, all of them.

There are no rules in this game boy.

That’s when I usually wake up, but get this, sometimes when I wake up it’s only into another dream, but it takes a few seconds to realise that, sometimes longer, and then, after squeezing my eyes tight shut before opening them again and finding myself in another place that could be a dream, and it is, and I’m getting suspicious by now and wondering if I’ll ever get back to fully conscious reality, so I settle for this.

But it’s been a long time now, in this reality, so I guess it must be the real one, at least it will have to do for the time being because I’m too tired to fight it any more and here I am, here is where I’ve made my home.

So, in this reality, there are things I have to deal with, things besides the essentials, like sleeping and eating and earning a living. Things like Ken and Lucy and Her (capital allowed), because that’s all that’s left now. These are the only things I have to deal with now, so what’s stopping me? Maybe I’ve just run out of steam, maybe there’s no oomph left in me, I’ll just have to accept all these unresolved things that are bugging me.

But then again, maybe not.

OK, Ken. Here I come.

I’m going to sort you out at last.

Ken will be in the club, he’s bound to be, it’s like his domain, his kingdom, and he likes to sit on his throne in the bar, his fat gut pressed against the dark wood table, the cheeks of his fat arse hanging out the sides of the chair. He’ll be drinking as usual, smoking dope, nipping off to the toilet or his office now and again to stick some cocaine up his ugly nose (although he pretends to have a weak bladder), that’s the one thing he seems to be ashamed of – his weakness.

Problem is, I can’t be seen in the club, can’t be seen by anyone tonight, got to avoid the CCTV cameras and the nosy cops – got to get through the network of Ken spies like Gollum – got to kill the bastard. That’s the only way it will end unless I just disappear, vanish into that land of bumness where nobody knows and nobody cares. But I’m not going to do that, because I’ve got pride, and besides I wouldn’t leave the rest of them in the shit like that, because there’s bound to be some repercussions (not all of them bad I’m sure but I can’t take the risk).

So it’s got to be Ken.

He’s got to have it.

He’s got to go.

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Whodunnit?

Whodunnit? You just might find out over the next two days.

Tomorrow and Saturday, June 1st & 2nd, Cardiff Central Library is the location for the Crime and Coffee festival, a very special gathering to celebrate Crime Writing.

Meet some award winning crime writers and find out what makes them tick, how they approach their work and where they get their inspiration from.

Full details here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cdfcrimefest

I am very pleased that I will be appearing at 1pm on Friday as part of a panel discussion with two other local authors Phil Rowlands and Evonne Wareham.

Details of the panel discussion here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FHFHEJ

Come along and discover the gems that this unique collection of talent has to offer

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Crime and Coffee – Panel Discussion with local Cardiff authors

This should be interesting . . .

As part of the 2 day Crime and Coffee festival hosted by Cardiff Libraries I, along with two other local authors will be discussing our very differing approaches to Crime Writing.

My focus will be on my trilogy of stories featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee, an ex punk New Age Traveller, who, to the dismay of his family and fellow travellers, became a copper to catch the ‘real bad guys’.

Bums, the first novel in the trilogy is already available. the second book, Beats, is due at the end of this year and the final in the trilogy, Bones, will be published in 2019.

Come along on Friday June 1st at 1pm to find out more about our unlikely police detective.

The other two authors on the panel are Evonne Wareham and Phil Rowlands, both are great writers with their own unique take on Crime Fiction

Here’s a link to more info about the panel discussion and the rest of the festival: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FHFHEJ

Click here for more about Bums, Beats, Bones and DI Frank

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Crime and Coffee at Cardiff Central Library

Coming up:

Friday June 1st and Saturday June 2nd 2018, Cardiff Central Library has organised this unique and very special event.

I’m very pleased that I was invited to take part and will be appearing as a panellist for the Friday lunchtime event at 1pm.

The Festival itself is spread over two very full days and features many amazing crime writers including two great local authors Evonne Wareham and Phil Rowlands who will be on the panel with me. We will be discussing our motivations and differing approaches to crime writing.

More about Evonne at: http://evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk/

More about Phil at: http://www.philrowlandswriter.com/

More about the festival at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cdfcrimefest

 

 

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Croeso – Welcome

Featured

Me and some of my mates

What’s it all about then?

No one’s got a clue really, but we try to do our best.

This website exists to display a bit of one person’s attempts to do their best. When I say ‘best’ I’m not sure if that’s true in the sense that everything here is perfectly crafted, because it’s not. Some of it is roughly hewn or not hewn at all, simply pointed at, but then again, maybe that’s the best I can do.

I dunno.

I reckon that less than 1 in 100 visitors to this website are actual human beings so if you’re one of them and not a bot, and have managed to read this far down the page, I hope you can find something of interest here.

Just scroll and click and search. Turn over some metaphorical stones – there’s quite a lot to uncover even if I do say so myself.

blah blah – you know the score – here’s a poem from 1999 about knowing the score

ninetyfivefive
 
 you know the score
 in a movie 
 or a tv show
 the flaws
 small flaws
 idiosyncratic flaws
 twelve flaws
 or just one 
 we’re allowed to be flawed 
 it’s ok as long as in the end 
 we’re fucking good at our job
 in my real life i’m an artex ceiling of cracks and fissures
 with some small redemption
 
 it’s kind of arse-backwards ain’t it?

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There’s always Hope

This is something I wrote nearly 24 years ago after attending an event at the Hay-On-Wye Festival Of Literature.

Saturday May 21, 1994, 12:20pm

‘The First Novel’

A motley gathering of aspiring authors collect together under the grubby canvas of a  large marquee. Two hundred or so enthusiastic literary souls eagerly await the arrival of an editor from a famous large publishing house. She is to be accompanied by two of her latest discoveries – two brand new novelists just about to have their first works published. There is hope, it is transmitted by the excited breathing of the assembled scribes. Books from new authors are being published, despite the economic climate; someone with the power to rescue the diligent, lonely aspirants is prepared to take a chance with new writers.

Four smart middle-class women enter the arena and arrange themselves tastefully on the dais; the background hubbub fades, all eyes face front. A dedicated wannabe novelist, a cloth-capped round man is scribbling frantically into his filo-fax. An elderly lady with a limp finds herself a last-minute seat near the front and sits down with a tired sigh – it’s been a long road.

Let the lesson begin. The editor speaks first: OK, let’s forgive the carefully cultivated tones of her voice, the expensive haircut and the cigarette dangling from manicured fingers. Let’s give her a chance. The slush pile is dismissed immediately; nothing of any value comes from that. The audience fidget, embarrassed, thinking of their own contributions to that bane of the publishing world. OK, what is it then? That magic spell to get your first novel published.

Let’s have examples. The two new authors are discussed.

Writer A is an old friend of the editor, her father was a well-known poet and her mother is an accomplished novelist. Poor thing had a deprived childhood with her arty father, even had to slum it in the castle-like homes of her family’s aristocratic Mediterranean friends. The editor and this princess of words spent months, meeting for lunch and at each other’s houses, trimming and buffing her manuscript until it eventually emerged as a thin and delicately polished literary flower.

Writer B is a senior literature journalist with the Times. She was wooed by our editor (why?) until she produced a delightfully funny piece of work based in the offices of a gardening magazine. Wonderful gimmick – a free packet of geranium seeds with every book sold.

Both writers have got friends who are literary agents. So what is that magic?

The two authors speak about their work and read extracts to the sinking audience, and finally, a marketing superwoman from the publisher explains how new authors are launched with minimum expenditure and maximum publicity (in the literary sections of quality newspapers no doubt – ah! that’s why); but none of these discourses mattered, all hope had long vaporised along with the few quid each of us had paid for the privilege of a sharp slap in the face. Maybe that was the point of the event after all?

Go back to your kitchen sinks and your allotments, you’re a punter – not a writer; writers are smart cultured people with friends in the ‘write’ places.

There was to be a question and answer session afterwards. In the back of the auditorium, a disappointed and disgruntled working-class man stands up, touches his forelock to the dais and makes a quick exit. It is me.

NOTE (December 2017): I don’t think much has changed in the quarter of a century since I wrote the above piece. Maybe I should have concentrated on running my computer business. I was quite good at that until I walked away from it to focus on writing, a couple of years after that Hay session.

Still – that’s hope for you.

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Work in Progress – Extract from “Beats”

This is an extract from Beats, the second novel in the Bums, Beats, and Bones trilogy. Bums has already been published. Beats will follow in 2018.

But it’s not really about the music is it?” Old Steve knew he was pushing his luck but he’d had decades of Billy’s bullshit and now and again he challenged him just for the hell of it.

“Don’t be bloody daft, it’s all about the music – the music is all there is,” Billy huffed.

Old Steve shook his head. “Nah mate! Believe me, you may think that – but all those punters out there – they don’t – not really, not if you dig a bit. Not if you get inside their skulls.”

Billy sighed. “You know what Steve – we’ve known each other since we were kids, a long time – what is it now? Fifty years near enough, but you ain’t got a fucking clue.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know; it would be impossible for you to admit to something contrary to what your whole life is based on. It would turn your brain into mush if you did that – not that your brain isn’t already mush – you lost that in the seventies.”

“Shut the fuck up. You’re doing my head in.”

“That’ll be the drugs too.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are? Without the music you wouldn’t have fuck all. Without The Redcurrents you’d be driving a bus. The music has given you, us, a good life.”

“You could say that about Val Doonican.” Old Steve chuckled at his own joke, it didn’t take much to wind Billy up, he was so insecure, but he’d better not start with all that crap about ‘electrifying’ the seventies with their radical socialist songs – that was pure luck, and Tommy’s lyrics of course.

“Please, I’m not in the mood,” Billy pleaded.

“OK, all right, I’ll shut up. Now, do you want another pint?”

“Ah, go on then, I’ll get them.”

Billy got up, went to the bar and waited for Andy to realise he was there and get off his fat arse to attend to him – he couldn’t be bothered to call out. He stared into nowhere, his mind meandering back through the decades. Of course, Steve was right – the actual music was just the wrapping – like the coloured cellophane around a cube of fancy chocolate. He knew as much as anyone that talented musicians were as common as yellow daffodils in March and good music was as ubiquitous as white seagulls on the inhabited coastline. It was pure luck, with a good dollop of ruthlessness that made a successful career. He knew because he’d been there, done that – got his fucking face on the T-Shirt. But you had to keep up the act – the moment you let it slip, it would be over, you might as well put a gun to your head.

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Extract from Work in Progress – ‘Deceit and Delusion’ Novel

This from the thoughts of Brian Llewelyn, formerly The Greatest Living Artist in Wales

Fucking tiny-minded people. If I hadn’t realised this and adjusted the way I engage with the bastards decades ago I would not be the success (that’s debatable I know) I am as an artist now.

The thing is most arbiters of culture are shallow and fake. They use what little knowledge they have to mask the gaping hole of nothingness that is their existence. I know better – I always have. Problem is I’ve allowed the bastards to subjugate me, to judge my work. Other problem is that most of the rest of the population need these hedgehog-brained existentialist angst dodgers to tell them what to think, what to buy, what to sacrifice their pathetic lives to.

Well fuck them – I’m back.

NOTES:

Deceit and Delusion is the follow up novel to Cheats and Liars

There are also several other novels in progress, most notably: Beats, the second in the trilogy of Bums, Beats and Bones and The Flying Boy, kind of meta fiction, told in the second-person present tense – sounds a bit affected but it’s not.

Better get on with it.

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The Flying Boy – Work in Progress extract

A short passage of work in progress from ‘The Flying Boy’
(one of the novels I’m working on)

There was a girl once, almost fifty years ago, at the end of the sixties, beginning of the seventies. You were seventeen or eighteen; she was a year or two younger. She played a guitar and sang her own songs. You can’t remember now if she was any good and don’t know if she became successful, whatever that means, but she at least had potential, and now and again over the years you think about her and wonder if she ever got anywhere with her music. According to Wikipedia there is a singer with the same first name as her from the same town who might be the same age and could be the girl herself, but you don’t want to research it any deeper than that because whatever the result it would tarnish your timeline. Continue reading

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Special offer just 99p/99c books for Kindle

On offer for just £0.99 or $0.99. Click on the book covers for more

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FREE BOOKS

Kindle versions of some of my books are on a FREE promotion for a limited time

Click on the links below to access the books

BUMS
Dead Flowers
For the Time Being
Boys from the Backfields
Cheats and Liars
The Three Bears

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Work in Progress – TV Scripts

I’m not sure what type of writing I prefer but if I can probably narrow it down to two – they are writing novels and writing film or TV scripts.

I think it’s because each of those forms allow you to write proper ‘stories’ with plots and characters. For example it’s exciting to throw a random plot twist at the characters and see how they react; then follow them to the end to see how everything gets resolved.

There’s time to get to know the characters a bit, time to chill with these new and interesting people. It’s also a bit like that with painting, especially painting portraits, where you don’t know where that first mark on the canvas is going to lead, who is going to emerge from that mess of form and colour.

I suppose that it’s a bit like that for all art-forms – the creation of something out of nothing but an idea. But then, isn’t it a bit like that for science and engineering too? Isn’t it a bit like that for every facet of human existence, from making a cup of tea to designing a spaceship?

There’s nothing special about writers and artists.

Anyway, my work-in-progress includes adapting two of my books into television scripts.

It’s going great so far, in fact both books seem to lend themselves to the visual style of a television script. The books are Bums and Boys from the Backfields and each story is being developed into a six part TV drama. Both books are set  in the industrial/post-industrial town of Elchurch on the South Wales coast but they are very different books in other respects.

Click for more about the books : BUMS or BOYS FROM THE BACKFIELDS

Here’s a sneak peek

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A visit from The Magic Elf

This is an extract from one of my books.

And now it’s the morning of March 15th 2016. One of the things that’s prompted this bit of live writing is my desire to reach 100,000 words. As I type I can see the word-count at the bottom of the screen and it says, hang on, I’ve got to catch it unaware because of course it will increase as soon as I type in the number: The number of words that are in this book so far is 98,951 (including the number 98,951), but of course it’s more already – it’s relentless, nothing really stops, everything changes.

It’s a bit like that with life – as soon as you think you’ve got a handle on it, the second you think you’ve got it sussed – it changes, it becomes something else, that’s one of the consequences of getting older, you lose the certainty of youth, and when I say youth I don’t mean childhood, I mean adulthood, from your early twenties or whenever it is you feel as if you’ve grown up at last, all the way through to old age in your sixties or whenever it is you feel as if you’re old.

Continue reading

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Cardiff Central Library – Open Space Event

Next Thursday December 15th

T O N I T E

open-space-english-leafletmore details on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1307412925977956/

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Reading and discussion at Cardiff Central Library Open Space Event

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.

Backfields-front 1 cover oct 8-2013Cheats-and-Liars-Front

The two novels

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.

More about Cheats and Liars

More about Boys from the Backfields

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Reality is the Biggest Myth

An extract from my book To Me

I’m told I ate the dog’s biscuits and drank a lot of water. I dunked my blond locks in a bucket of lime and nearly died of pneumonia at a few weeks old. The pneumonia and the bucket of lime are unconnected, at least in the normal linear way we deal with time.

The truth is that after nearly sixty years of being me, (and being me involves a lot of thinking about these things) I still know nothing about myself. I am here – that’s all I know. I accept that here may not be ‘real’. I accept that reality is the biggest myth.

***

 REALITY IS THE BIGGEST MYTH

***

“We are all in touch with everything at all times. There is no separation in reality. This life is an illusion created by a random collection of sub-atomic particles and no doubt sub-sub atomic particles. Because we are conscious we have to make sense of it so we make up stories.”

I’m sure the story of me will all come out in some way or other at some time or other. Here on the road this is a signpost or a post or just a sign. So the point is that if I was to represent the sun with a full stop . like that, then there are stars out there that are the size of this page – this room even, and we all know that the earth is tiny compared to the sun and we are tiny compared to the earth and if I could look into my fingernail or any other material thing I would see that it is composed of sub-atomic particles which really don’t exist and I can write my own story but even then you could say it is already written because there once was nothing then there was some sort of bang or expansion that emanated from some point in the middle of that nothing, nowhere, and the force that propelled that and created those stars the size of a hundred million Earths also created me and I am just a consciousness on some sort of trajectory through time and space and all I’m really doing is observing as I zoom past and I don’t have any choices except perhaps which dot to focus on.

***

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The BEBS Award for Best Ever Book

Winner-The-BEBSWell, I did it, I won the Best Ever Book Award.

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.

Thank you

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