Thursday, 23 July 2015

Giving it away...

Ok, so you missed out on my free book giveaway. The winner (announced on the FB page) was Anna from Birmingham and she's soon to be the proud(?) owner of a copy of my novel, Writing Therapy.

But don't despair! (You weren't?) Ok, well, as a little extra something the Kindle edition of the book is free to download from tomorrow for five days. Inspired by the HallĂ© Orchestra's pay-what-you-like concert in September I've decided to let anyone and everyone have it for free and then pay (if they wish) whatever they think it's worth. I know, dangerous. But interesting.

Should anyone decide to cough up there's a 'donate' button on the Dotterel Press home page. But I'd be equally pleased if as many people as felt like it downloaded it, read it, enjoyed it and - maybe - reviewed it or discussed it or recommended it.

Writing Therapy was first published in 2008 to considerable (for a first novel) acclaim and was nominated for the Young Minds fiction award the same year. It was my first attempt at fiction. Indeed, it was my first full-length publication having previously only had articles and features in magazines and newspapers. I was heartened by the response; the sales were respectable, too. And many people kindly told me how they'd been inspired or helped or reassured by what they'd read. Which is about the best feedback of all, to be honest.

So, why not try it for yourself? It'll never be everyone's cup of tea (you can see why I'm not in marketing) but if you fancy reading something different this summer, why not click the link?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

One small step...

It was on this day, forty-six years ago, that Neil Armstrong uttered those now immortal words as he stepped onto the surface of our only satellite. (Ok, strictly speaking he should have said a man but who cares?)

The earth's satellite - our moon - has a profound effect on so much down here on earth, from the tides (you'd hardly notice them without it) to the length of days (much, much shorter) and the seasons (hugely variable as earth's axis would tilt enormously).

In addition, by that freak of nature we call chance, our moon is just the right distance from us for our shadow to cover its surface (lunar eclipse) and just the right distance from our nearest star to occlude the sun completely at a total solar eclipse.

Just think of the impact that must have had on our ancient (and not-so-ancient) ancestors. It's little wonder that the Moon has had such a profound cultural, historical and psychological impact. We still call one of the days of the week 'Moon-day' for goodness sake!

There's a whole lot more that could be said but for now, let's just let the Moon itself do the talking...


Friday, 17 July 2015

Prince Philip enjoys the cricket at Lords

That well-known sponger the Duke of Edinburgh has been spotted - sponging - at Lord's this morning. Apparently, he's a life-member (honorary) of the MCC so he's sponging off one of the most august and respectable institutions in the land. No doubt the charity workers he was heard comparing sponging notes with yesterday would like a bit of that. But no. The Prince of Philip-ville is royal. Only the best will do. For him.

Oh, and in addition to a whopping, sponging £300,000 per annum from the Sovereign Support Grant (no austerity measures there) he's Greek. And we all know what a mess Greek finance is in, don't we?

If any of the above is in any way offensive then - in a word the Duke himself probably uses, after uttering such witticisms as 'just take the f**king photograph' (to a photographer), 'slitty-eyes' (a student in China), 'looks as though it's been put in by an Indian' (a fuse box at a Scottish factory), 'vast waste of space' (British Embassy, Berlin) and 'what exotic part of the world do you come from?' (Lord Taylor of Warwick - who is from Birmingham) - tough.

Tough on the rest of us, that's certain. Because, not having had the fortune to marry a woman whose distant ancestors killed each other in order to gain power, we can't say what we bloody well like.

But he can.

Just remember, though - it's only a joke.

And the joke's on us.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Have a gay old time

It's the day of the Durham Miners' Gala. Held on the second Saturday July and also known as the Big Meeting it's been a northern institution since the nineteenth century. 

I once happened to be in Durham when it was held. I wasn't aware of that at the time. I was visiting a friend and we went into town for a look around. What we got was brass bands, banners and brass hats with the Mayor on the Town Hall balcony waving genially to everyone who marched past. That was a long time ago. There are no mines in County Durham these days. But there's still a Durham Miners' Gala. 

Or rather, gay-la. That's how it's always been pronounced, rather in the idiosyncratic local way that 'Beauchamp' is pronounced 'Beecham' and 'Magdalen', maudlyn. 

The event made the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning. The pronunciation didn't. Or rather - it did in the snooty 'some people call it Gay-la' condescending tones of Justin Webb that as far as I'm aware they never use when uttering the idiosyncrasies (or is that, idiocies?) of the upper class. 

I was rather irritated by the whole thing. Perhaps you can tell. What annoyed me wasn't the fact that they referred to both gala and gayla (there are plenty in Durham who say gala) but the patronising way they seemed to do it.

They'd never consider offering alternative  pronunciations of upper-class linguistic affectations, after all. And for the majority of the listening public, hearing words like Chalmondeley or Caius on the radio isn't going to be much help spelling them.

Still, it does provide the rest of us some amusement. Here are two limericks I found on the subject:

There once was a student at Caius
Who whizzed down the slope on his skaius;
But a fellow from Magdalene
Said 'I prefer dagdalene - 
'I've got where I am by degraius!'

Or how about this, 

There was a young fellow from Wymondham
Who grew some tomatoes and tymondham;
When he started to scoff
He found they'd gone off
So he said something peevish and bymondham.

Boom! Boom!
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