In Search of My Father 2017 Writing Project

In Search of My Father 2017 Writing Project
In Search of My Father, 2017 writing project supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


I received these books today from Wordsworth Editions. They are new paperbacks of the works of H. G. Wells and they look splendid. They contain novels and stories by one of England's greatest writers. Some of the titles will be very familiar - The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau - and I remember reading them a long time ago, (re-reads beckoning in the coming months!) and loved them for their ingenious plots and twists and their sheer entertainment. Anyone fancying themselves as a writer of fiction should devour these books. There is much to learn, much to enjoy.

I will be blogging about the books and Wells in the coming months but (and you might want to sit down for this) I must tell you the price. Ready? Each book retails at £1.99. ("Cough, splutter Aunt Nellie, did he just say £1.99?")

Yes I did. £1.99 per book (Kindle versions also available at less than that), so there is no excuse.

Here's the link to Wordsworth Editions but you can also find these fine books at Amazon, Waterstones and many others.

Happy reading. Oh, did I mention the price per book?


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Monday, 16 January 2017


There is a growing tendency amongst some people to campaign for a thing called transparency. As far as I understand it, transparency taken to its extreme is knowing everything about everything and everyone. Let me repeat that - knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Really?

A lot of focus is on how much bosses earn compared to their employees which is only useful if the facts help to equalise gender pay for people doing the same jobs. But a checkout operator in Tesco, say, knowing what the Chief Executive earns might be nice to know but is it relevant? Does it satisfy nosiness to know stuff like that or does knowing it stir up envy and bitterness? The greater the responsibility, the bigger the pay packet surely makes some sense.

On the subject of money, big name celebrities employed by the BBC will be identified and we will know what they earn. As it's the BBC, a portion of the population will gasp in horror at how much ten-a-penny presenters are paid and it won't be pennies. Others will shrug their shoulders and mutter ho-hum, nice work if you can get it. The politicians who favour and encourage the free market don't seem to apply their principles to the BBC because it is publicly funded and should be, er, transparent. Little credence is given to the fact that talent is an expensive commodity and like any business commodity it is prone to competition, bidding and negotiation. It is the way of things, not always palatable, not always fair but it's the way the world works. It we want high calibre, quality programmes and presenters, they come at a price. At some point, a government will enforce a maximum pay rate for BBC employees, celebrities and otherwise, in the quest to weaken and eventually destroy the organisation. Average calibre and average quality television is not an appetising prospect. Just spend a few hours watching second-rate satellite channels. You might like them, of course, or you will experience the liquification of your cerebral cortex.

I couldn't care less about celebrity pay and if it all became public knowledge, it wouldn't make any difference to me or jolt my blood pressure.  I watch TV and either like or dislike the presenters and programmes. I don't see them through kerching spectacles. David Attenborough earns a hefty wad. So what? Graham Norton earns a pretty penny. Yawn. Huw Edwards probably does okay. Am I bovvered? But, if some people are desperate to know how many shillings celebrities earn, the transparency campaigners will not rest until every celebrity/presenter (chuck in footballers too!) wears a badge in public declaring how much their contracts are worth, or better still, their remuneration should be displayed at the bottom of the screen any time the celeb is on camera.

Beyond celebrities, transparency means that every domestic and commercial building should be made from glass or perspex and we should witness what people get up to morning, noon and night. We should have access to view everybody's bank accounts, mortgage arrangements, debts, savings, investments and the value of their houses. We should know their living arrangements, their decor, their eating and drinking habits and any other stuff that would satisfy our curiosity. Once we know all there is to know, we can choose to ignore what we know or spit venom on social media.

If we really, really want to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, we should join the Secret Service and once we know everything about everything and everyone, as the Secret Service already do, our appetites for knowledge would be at peace because there would be nothing left to know. Shangri-la-la land. A peaceful, satisfied, harmonious world. Yeah, right!

Sunday, 15 January 2017


It's a don't know whether to laugh or cry world as we stumble on wondering what the next news bulletin will bring. Whoever and whatever is the cause of the confusion, worry and fear in the world, the influencers, the persuaders have us all dangling like panicking puppets on strings. Confusion, worry and fear are just some of the ingredients in a casserole of chaos that tastes yummy to decision-makers in the upper echelons, egged on by their stirring spin and nudge teams.

In the U.K. just about everything is up for dismantling or changing or abolishing. The National Health Service is being allowed to die an undignified death as its body parts are being hived off to private companies. A man called Jeremy Hunt is in charge but he turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the truth. He is content for him and us to wake up to a daily NHS story of doom and gloom, giving his thumbs up to the Grim Reaper and enjoying his ambition to kill this version of a health service. Crisis, what crisis? His supportive political colleagues recite the Government's well-rehearsed answers to questions but these are answers to different questions and the original questions are left gasping for someone to take an honest interest. There is much smuggery about, being wily and articulate and good looking and sounding on the TV and radio. But these hapless, headless chickens seem to spend more time filling in expense forms than they do on making sure sick people get well. It's about budgets. It's about money, as well as politically motivated ambitions to dismantle an institution and flog the lucrative bits of it. The American philosopher (and many other things) Noam Chomsky puts this kind of thinking well: 

"The standard technique of privatisation: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."

Not everyone agrees with Chomsky's outpourings, but he has a way with words, phrases and clear thinking.

In a short number of years, there will not be a National Health Service. The dismantlers will rejoice and say that private companies will have unburdened the State and the taxpayer, ignoring the rather obvious point that we will all have to produce our credit cards before being treated in a hospital. We'll get our operations and treatments only if we can afford it. If you ain't got the money, just go away, wither and die somewhere out of sight.

No one, as far as I can see, reports the great work being done day in, day out, night in, night out by dedicated hospital employees of whatever stripe. 'Twas ever thus, of course, bad news hogs the headlines. Good news is a tailpiece.

And then there's the BBC being measured for a strait-jacket to impose restrictive State controls and Press strangulation to render its freedom a thing of the past. Appalling. The dismantlers appear to be winning gradually. They enjoy the public's apathy. It's a gift. Protesting on Twitter and writing blogs is like pissing in the wind and farting against thunder. Apart from election campaigns, we are, as I said on a post recently, saps. Once they've got our vote, we can sod off. That's demockracy.

Oh, and enjoy the pageantry of the U.S. President's inauguration on Friday. I'll miss it. I'll be in B&Q buying a handcart and then at the travel agents purchasing a one-way ticket to hell.

Happy days! I'm off to decide whether to laugh or cry.